Saturday, November 5, 2016

Rhinebeck 2016 - We survived and it was grand!

I taught at New York State Sheep and Wool Festival last month, more fondly known as Rhinebeck to most fiber enthusiasts. It's no wonder with that mouthful!

Michigan's Autumn leaves on one of my favorite roads to go down in the Fall just as I was finally hitting the road. I wanted to document the difference in color progression. 
Our last morning leaving our AirBnB in Poughkeepsie presented us with a barge floating down the Hudson just as we were getting on the highway back to Rhinebeck. This is the best shot I was able to get of the leaves changing in New York. The colors were phenomenal all throughout New York and Pennsylvania although, I  must say, nothing beats a Northern Michigan Autumn in my opinion. I am a mitten state girl through and through. 
My travel buddy Maegan and I on our last morning. So grateful for my friend on this trip. 
I'd like to say it was amazing all around but Maegan and I's journey was fraught with car issues. My faithful Subaru began misfiring about halfway through the trip which set us back a few hours we couldn't really afford. We abandoned my car at a Monro Tire & Muffler in Clarion, PA and were transported to a teeny little podunk airport in DuBois, PA where we picked up a teeny compact rental. No big deal until you realize we have 4 spinning wheels, dying equipment and supplies, and all of our luggage for a 3 night stay. Fortunately I'm a pro at car Tetris. On to New York we went!!!!

We had a lovely stay at our AirBnB with a hostess who was extraordinarily kind and generous. Her Victorian home was in the process of being remodeled on the outside (the inside had been restored almost fully already!) and it was GORGEOUS! Her sweet clan of kitties kept us company and our feet warm while we slept too.

We arrived at the grounds sleepy but invigorated and excited to have finally made it, this was our first Rhinebeck. (we won't talk about the woman who backed into our rental car on the way up the road at the fairgrounds less than an hour before my first class started....)
Okay, maybe we will talk about it a little bit. This is what happens when someone who shouldn't have a license doesn't look behind them , not once on two separate occasions. Shame on us for thinking she knew a vehicle was driving behind her on a road filled with vendors and instructors entering to setup after we had already back up once to avoid being hit. It was of course everyone's fault but her own... grr..... 
Classes were INCREDIBLE! Friday was a whirlwind with a total of 25 students between my two classes. I was nervous to have so many students and to be teaching two classes for the very first time, but when you have such a great group of students, the knots in your stomach ease a bit more quickly.
Wash & Dye workshop students observing our dye results
using various types of wool washes and two different types of acid dyes.
We ran this workshop using the Scientific Method. I'm looking
forward to honing this workshop and offer it again either at my studio and/or
other festivals. 
13 spinners! This was the most I had ever had and the world did not end, in
fact, I quite enjoyed myself and I think they did too! 
My classes on Saturday and sunday were much smaller, but no less wonderful.
Wirecore samples, pin samples, and
wirecore spinning supplies all ready for my Saturday morning
Samples and supplies all set to go for my Thick & Thin
Handspun Singles workshop. A delightful duo in this workshop. One of my smallest classes ever
but so wonderful. My students had an age gap of about 50 years if I had to guess. Not hard to have when one student is a 12 year old boy! They were both terrific and definitely a highlight of my weekend.
Wirecore Spinning Students
We covered spinning around a wire core,
supercoils around a wire core,
 and making a fibula style shawl
pin using the yarn we made.
A Fleece &Lock Spinning student. I love getting action shots of bobbins while people spin. 
Sunday morning was Spinning From Fleece & Locks. This workshop
was all about keeping the texture of the fleece or locks you are working with
by spinning directly with no preparation. The textures and colors are so divine! Tailspinning
was also covered. I am in love with this student's bobbin. 
I was so grateful to run into a Michigander friend both Saturday and Sunday morning. Not much better than being so far from home and having a familiar face give you a big ol' hug first thing in the morning!

My meager haul! not much time to shop when you are teaching and have to jet ASAP when done! Poor Joe met us at the weird little airport with my subaru on a trailer so we could drop the rental and hop in the truck to get Maegan back to her truck and ourselves home. 
Loved this stained
glass as n alternative
to a banner or sign in
the animal barn for the Rambo sheep.
I had no idea how HUGE
Rambouillet sheep were! 
Despite all of the car issues, I had an amazing weekend and couldn't have asked for a better pal to share it with. We kept each other up through the vehicular drama with very few tears shed. I didn't get to experience much of the festival so I know next year with proposals to leave myself at least a full day to go shop.
Thanks Rhinebeck, I hope to see you again next year! 
the weather was beautiful all weekend and the sky as the sun set on our
return journey was a breathtaking sight. not bad for through a windshield.! 

Sunday, October 2, 2016


The kids are both in school now, the first year for my son.

This means early mornings and not nearly so late nights (I don't think a bedtime before 11 PM will ever quite be something I can do) will become normal. While I am not an early riser I am looking forward to having some time.

I'm still trying to find that rhythm and routine in photograph, edit, list, each and every day. I managed two days but today was a studio day. Looking at my products page, I'm really pleased to see that even though I am starting to incorporate a few neon colors in my palette, my work flows well and is cohesive, recognizable. Even when I incorporate another artist's fiber into my wirecore for my jewelry I like that it challenges me to work with colors and textures I may not have. Like Maegan's amazing bright white alpaca blend with neon noils here. 

I've been working on lines of products, though I hate referring to them as "products" like that. To me, it takes the handmade feeling out of what I do by just using a word. On my banner I say "fiber goods" and that feels more home to me, like my hands still touched it, because each and everything thing I do requires a lot of process and handling. A main goal that I began work on earlier this year is having color ways be consistent across all of my goods.  I would like to have my colorways be available in all types of batts, punis, dyed top, and even creeping into my jewelry. Small batch production is key.

This method of working came about more so because I realized how much more productive I was being with my jewelry vs. fiber because I always make small batches of each component, assemble, and move on to the next type I am low on. It is working out extremely well in my fiber work now and really adds cohesion to my booth setup.

The other reason I began working this way is that the majority of my work is about texture. My batts are modest in size, 2 oz for Betty's and 2.5 oz. for Bricobatts, but still a decent amount for a small project. Many people want project quantities so working in multiples and having all of my fiber goods coordinate gives several options for stretching the materials enough for a whole range project sizes.

I want people to realize how usable fiber preparations can be even when they look too pretty or too funky to spin. So many exciting things that be achieved when you try something new. I have noticed a great resistance in traditional spinners to a lot of the seemingly new preparations and range of color available now at fiber shows. More on that next time...

Friday, August 5, 2016

Macro Lens for your cell phone

I few months back I decided to try a month free of Amazon Prime and went on a small shopping spree. One of my purchases was this little set of lenses for my cell phone's camera.
They actually came with a little clip for each one but it is easier to just carry one in the little pouch they came in. The lens on the left serves double duty as a FULL SCREEN or a Fish Eye lens. I played with them a little bit over the week of the fourth of July. Joe, Gareth, and I had been grocery shopping near the airport that the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show is at every year and came out to a scene of hot air balloons launching so we stayed and got a free show!

I keep these in my person and still often forget about them so I was glad that I had the forethought too with the balloons that day. We used to go to the festival all the time when I was a kid so it was really wonderful to share with Gareth that day.
The other lens serves as both a Wide Angle and a Macro. I don't use the wide angle much but the Macro was the whole reason I purchased these. I was really disappointed that I still was having trouble getting good detail shots of my jewelry. Texture is really the theme of all of my work so when that is not being conveyed well enough, I don't feel like the photo does it justice.
The way I was able to highlight these exquisite teeswater lamb locks and the salvage really allows what makes my Betty Batts so uniquely textural to shine through. These batts in my ALGEBRAIC colorway are available in the SHOP right now BTW!

It really allows me to focus right in on the detail I want to, as it should! I like that it's companion is out of focus in the background so I can so subtle variations in the yarn from piece to piece without having it be too busy.
I practiced a little bit with it on the way up to Marquette back in June and took this beautiful shot of lichens at a rest area.
 I also played with the full screen and the fish eye a little more when we got to Lake Superior.

Here is a link to where I got my lenses! I am very pleased with them and they really were a minimal investment and even have the option of adding a telephoto lens to the package!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Behind the Scenes Series

I've just settled into my Spotify weekly playlist to write a post to you all about something. What happens behind the scenes of a one woman indie fiber business? Well, a lot, but not always what you would expect.

Today I watched my nephew and had some running to do, mostly for the kids. Hard things... like dropping off a preschool application. I'm torn between feeling incredibly sad that he is already 4 (well... will be in a matter of weeks) and elated that I could have 4 whole days a week to go to my studio and work. Set hours. Structure. I need that.

After my nephew got picked up, I decided I would do a little photographing and thought it would be a great time to try out that new Instagram stories feature. Well... it didn't work out very well. I think I deleted about 12 failed attempts and decided that since I already had been about to share my new photo setup (it's genius!) that I would just periscope it.

Gareth totally crashed the periscope session. During and immediately after, I thought... "what a disaster!" Then I watched it and I loved it. I think I finally got over my camera jitters after jumping into periscope a few months back which probably has a lot to do with the fact that I teach an awful lot. So here it is, now located on youtube (because I have a youtube channel now too - check it out!)

I also started playing with my Macro Lens that I got for my cell phone's camera. I'm gonna blog about that tomorrow but here is a peek at a photo I posted on istagram with it. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Weekends don't always go as planned...

Especially as an artist, a mom, a teacher, a baker, and a wife.

I was supposed to teach a class this weekend on the Fermentation Suint Method. Last year I had a FULL class, this year, enrollment was low. It happens. It bums me out. But sometimes it is a blessing in disguise.

Because class got cancelled....

Instead of finishing prep work and handout Friday evening, I worked on cleaning my neglected yard and found a small bounty of morels out back for a special dinner.

 I got to see Adele march in the parade on Saturday at the Tulip Festival in Holland. It was a great parade even if it was windy and freezing. We stopped at an amazing greenhouse on the way home that looked super intriguing and Joe bought me some really unique flowers for my honeybee loving garden.

I washed woolens I had long neglected.

I had a nice dinner with my family and have nearly finished my Topography Kerchief. 

aaaaaaaand, I got to spend some LOOOOOONG overdue quality time with JUST my sister. I wish I had thought to take a picture of us. We went shopping and had coffee and it was delightful. <3

Joe just took Gareth to the grocery store and I'm about to head off to the studio.

Sometimes, it is nice when things don't go as planned.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Blending Board Part II

So this beautiful Cherry wood blending board from Clemes & Clemes came home with me from PLY Away.
  First, I love the box it came in. I don't know if it was because this was maybe a floor model, but the velcro on the box lid is genius. I will be storing it back in it's box often since this will be a teaching tool for me and it will really help with the longevity of it.

Second, I love that their brand is always so bold on their equipment. I was just at an antique store today and could no longer read the back of a hand card. I want to know a piece of equipment's history long after it's original owner is gone. This brush is the same as the one I purchased at SOAR from them. Their drumcarder comes with a wide one. I get that in September. Did I mention that? I may be a little bit excited.

Third, Grace is awesome. Grace Shalom Hopkins that is. About a year ago I sent some fiber to Grace for her book CARD. She did great unboxing's (find mine HERE!) for all of the products that were sent to her and also was kind enough to provide a copy of the book we were a part of. You can find CARD for purchase here.

Recently, she has gotten really active on YouTube with free demo videos. My favorite type of "how to" videos are ones that have very little to no talking and are edited with music rather than any noise from the actual recording. Visual learning is what works best for me.

I watched this video in the car on the way to brunch today and proceeded to card up 9 really great rolags several hours later. They were recognizable as MY fiber, which was key. I had played with it the first night I had it home and liked my results... but didn't love them.

At first, hadn't thought this would be a tool I would use for items for sale but I am reconsidering... I can sit and watch TV with the family while I do this, a major perk. I'm thinking maybe some limited runs in current colorways to start.

These are all carded in my Truffle Berry colorway. The grey has far less blending in my smooth version of this colorway both as a batt and as rolags. I'm working on getting some locks and fleece dyed in these colors for some Betty Batts in a small update coming soon.

In the mean time, if you are looking for something lovely for your blending board or carder, Rita from Yarn Hollow just added some super scrumptious 4 oz gradient packs of american Targhee to her Big Cartel shop. Super floofy and ready for blending!