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!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Blending Board Part I

I told my Gretchen (my studio mate) before I left for PLY Away that if I did well, I would come home with a blending board. I had wanted one for a while because students kept asking me about them, and while I always said they were a slightly different economic alternative to a drum carder, I could never quite tell them how I felt about them.

I kept seeing people make their own blending boards. I didn't want to go through the trouble and didn't see it being much more cost effective.

I talked to the Clemes fellas at SOAR Chicago in 2013 about their blending boards, the cloth, and a little bit about carders. I was convinced at that point that the cloth that was available to me wasn't worth it for sure at that point. I walked away with a new brush for packing and some serious perspective on how few manufacturers are making quality carding cloth. Unfortunately, I was a very new mom and Joe's work circumstances weren't great so it was not the best time for me to buy new equipment.
Spinoff had a beautiful cover this issue with punis featured and Gretchen and I both were pretty smitten. I know she really wanted to try one and I was wanting to see if we could get a few in the department but still had very little experience on one.
Well... Clemes & Clemes was just across the room from me sharing a booth with Brooke from Sincere Sheep at PLY Away.
do you see them there just taunting me! Not to mention Brooke's yarn which I also came home with...
I came home with a blending board.... and I pick up my new carder this September at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool. I will be vending there a 3rd year in a row sharing a booth with Dani of Pumpkinhaus for a second year in a row. I didn't propose any classes this year but Clemes & Clemes are offering some great classes with their equipment. If you are on the fence about taking the class, contact Roy, I am sure he can talk you into it.
Roy, Brooke, and I at the beginning of tear down.
Next Time: I figured it out!!! (the blending board that is!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Fermentation Suint Method: Adding the Fleece

I finally got around to getting the fleece part of the equation into my soon to be Suint bath this weekend. I'm offering a two day workshop on washing fleece using FSM where we will also take a look at different fleece types and how to process them with a tiny bit of dying thrown in the mix. This class was terrific last year and was largest group I have ever had at Tillers! It was great fun and I took loads of pictures but do you think I can find any of them now? Will keep searching and hopefully can add them in at some point!

All of the rain last week meant I could have had two very large bins started but because of various methods I have adopted in the last year for cleaning my fleece, I don't use this method as often because I wash my fleece as I need it. (A whole other post, seriously.) I had a smaller bin handy since I don't want to overwhelm my students. A quick pick through this Border Leicester and it was into bags!
Unfortunately, I realized all of my mesh bags were at the studio so I had to make a quick trip to the Family Dollar. They didn't have any plan ones but they did have these really nice Gain ones for $1.50 a piece! The next size up was the exact size of my bin if I laid it flat!

This will soak for 5-7 days and all the natural grease (suint, etc.) will create the soap bath. Watch for my next post for progress or follow me on Instagram for lots of behind the scenes looks at my fiber (and sometimes just life) ventures! 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Fermentation Suint Method: Collecting the Rainwater

Hey all!

I just got back from vending at the very first PLY Away retreat about a week ago and am still digesting the whole amazing experience. Work and life back home of course keeps on going so on to the next thing! (Don't worry, I took loads of pictures at PLY Away and am very excited to share more in depth stories behind all that I shared on IG and the few I held back for here!)
My booth at PLY Away!
In preparation for my Rainwater Fleece Prep class at Tillers International in a couple of weeks, I thought it would be appropriate to get a Fermentation Suint bath going again. It has been just over a year since my last one and for a couple of years I was cleaning fleece using this method combined with some Unicorn Power Scour as a final scour after the bath.

I did a lot of research on the method and really enjoyed learning about it's history which I talk about in the class quite a lot.

May is acting a bit more like April should have been with loads of rain and semi chilly temperatures here in the mitten. While warmer temperatures would be nice, the rain was welcome as I needed to start my bath by collecting some natural rainwater. You can use softened water for this also but, A. I don't have soft water and B. if we are gonna go with a natural method, might as well go all natural right?

I like to leave a few large opaque totes out on my deck just under the edge of the roof for this. It collects quickly, especially if we are getting heavier rains!
collecting the water in bins under the edge of the roof

drip! drip! drip! Sometimes more slowly than others. 

Wednesday I will select a fleece to start the bath so that I can give each student a jar of a good example of a suint bath since it is impossible to complete the fermenation suint method (FSM) in a weekend. It is incredible how something as simple as the natural greases in the fleece create their own soap! No wonder this method has been used for centuries! Look out for my next post where I choose the fleece to dunk first!