Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Getting Reading for the Show

This Saturday I will be a demonstrator & vendor at the sweet little Mars Hill Heritage Festival on the campus of Mars Hill College where I work.  I'll be carding & spinning a lovely natural brown/grey fleece and selling hats, yarn and fiber.  Now nobody ever gets rich at this little show, but we do put on a good event.  There will be live traditional music, handmade pottery (and kids can throw a pot), 4-H booths, milking goats, an apple butter kettle, a keeper of bees and a number of eceolygy/sustainablility/history displays of the campus quad.  The usual vendors will be down on Main Street.

Between now and then I need to...

  • Tag yarn and hats
  • Felt some knitted hats
  • Ply and wash yarns 
  • Weigh and tag fiber
  • Make a bunch of signs
  • Assemble my display stuff
  • Assemble the portable 'office'
  • Pack the truck
  • Snag stuff I need from Locally Grown

Because we have an English dance event that same evening, I also need to...
  • Clean the house (because you never know where the party will be!)
  • Tidy the guest room
  • Bake cookies
  • Assemble table linens & serving utensils
  • Pick and arrange flowers
  • Better clean the bathroom too
Since I don't do many craft shows (about 3 per year!), I have to reinvent the wheel every time.  But since a good bit of the stock of SmokyMountainFibers will come to the event, it's a good way for local Ravelers and Etsians who wish to can see my work.  I put a note on Ravelry inviting spinners to bring wheels and spindles and 'set a spell' as we say up in these mountains.  Should be chilly (good for hat sales) and I hope it's sunny!

Monday, September 28, 2009

All Natural

Just as I have been dyeing, carding and spinning lots of colors into my yarns, I've been selected for an Etsy Treasury featuring - what else? - natural colors.  Not that I am complaining! I love natural colors and just fininshed plying up several skeins of naturals that I have spun up over the the last few weeks.  I wanted to finish the last few pounds of medium brown roving (since the new batch was a tad different in shade) and I like to accumulate a few skeins to wash together so my natural skeins don't pick up any errand dye that may come from washing dyed roving or yarns.

Yes, I wash my yarns after spinning to release any dirt or spinning oil left in after processing,  The yarns have a much nicer hand - softer & fluffier - though they do shrink a bit.  However I think that is much fairer to my customers.  They get a truer hand and yardage.

Here is the Naturals grab bag that was featured.  If it sells by the time you read this blog post, just look in my 'Felter's Paintbox' category.  I just keep them coming! 

Friday, September 25, 2009

Spinning Happily!

Spinning away happily - for pure joy and for a good reason.  Lately I've been on a mission to spin my SmokyMountainFiber colorways.  I'm not quite sure why, but I love to dye roving, but tend to spin natural colors.  Is it because I tend to spin for the shops (who sell a lot of natural colors) and I spin for my hat knitting (again, much of the demand is for natural colors)? Yes, of course! Is it because the dyed roving is too precious to spin up?  I don't think so.  

So it has been my plan of late to spin my way through the SMF spectrum.  Although none of these are actual before and after shots, they do represent the starting point.   I give you Bronze Green.

 And now for something in the warmer side of the color wheel...

Fire is a hot color!  Forgive the pun, but dyeing this colorway has always excited my more than ony other color.  I have more on the wheel right now.

 My favorite  - Beach Glass  - the soothing blues and greens are a delight to spin and to dye.

I've got more, including colors that did not photograph well enough to put in my Etsy shop.  I've also spun some Uglies that went through the drum carder, as they frequently spin up better than you might think.  So I'll keep on spinning and sharing.

Still getting used to the new photo manipulation on Blogger.  Grrr!  I'll get better!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What Have I Spun Lately?

I've been on something of a spinning jag the last few weeks.  It's that time of year for a number of reasons.  I need my own yarn to knit my handspun hats. My dyed yarns sell well at Locally Grown, the craft gallery at the WNC Farmers Market.  Asheville Homecrafts sells a lot of natural colors and I have a couple of shows coming up.  And I just like to spin - and that's reason enough.  Here are just a couple of sample skeins that I've spun lately.

The first skein is a bulky weight Merino in my Blue Planet colorway - blues and greens.  4 ounces;103 yards.  Squishy and delightful!

The second skein is a mystery roving in my Beach Glass colorway - blue, teal & green.  Although I can't be sure of the fiber content it is nearly as soft as the Merino, and nicely lofty.   3.5 ounces; 108 yards.

I also spun 3 other skeins of blues and greens, a red-orange combo, and some lovely natural brown.  I've got a bit of plying to do this evening to free up bobbins for Saturday's Spin-a-thon at the Mountain State Fair.  Can't Wait!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You Dance; I'll Spin

My cranky knee has forced me to give up dancing and hiking for a bit while I let it heal itself.  Self-diagnosed as patella tendinitis (aka runner's knee), I've upped my dose of supplements that are good for joint health and backed off the exercise.  So what's a woman to do when face with a already-paid-for weekend of music, contradancing, good friends and a great location?  Take one's spinning wheel, of course!  I missed the contra dancing, but I knew that it would be impossible to 'dance light' with that fabulous band.  I want my knee to heal - I have to let it happen.

So while 250 of my closest friends danced to Elixir with Nils Fridland, plus Charlotte's Anam Cara with caller Barbara Groh, I hung out in the shade and spun yarn.  Lots of yarn!  I spun hand-dyed roving in my Etsy colorways of Beach Glass and Saturn as well as some hand-carded batts in deep blue with gold mohair and a sweet aqua.  I did some dark brown overdyed in loden and natural medium brown.  Of course I drew a crowd - people want to take a break from dancing, and spinners know that the wheel really draws people in.  Now I can re-stock the Locally Grown gallery at the WNC Farmers Market.

Coming up this weekend, spinning at the Mountain State Fair.  To get ready, I'm dyeing more merino roving this time in shades of reds and oranges, plus Smoky Mountain Fibers Bronze Green, always a good seller. It's also the Wool Breeds sheep and fleece show and I usually treat myself to a fleece at the fair.  I also entered some hats and yarn in the fair and am interested to see if I won a ribbon or two.  I'll see on Saturday and report back!  Look for me in the Heritage Walk area - if I'm not visiting the sheep barns!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day - When the Work is Fun!

When Labor Day consists of doing the creative and self-sustaining work that you love, it's more than labor.  It is the good work that makes us know that we are alive and contributing to the universe.

I didn't go to the college today, but I did respond to my student's concerns and questions.  I find that working on Labor Day goes against all that I was taught by my union-card carrying parents.  So I take a vacation day. 

I stopped by both my retail accounts today to say hello and check on my goodies - even chatted with a new needle felter.

I did a bit of drum carding - made some batts that I can't wait to spin.  Dyed roving too.

I spent some quality time in the garden, pulling weeds and tired tomatoes, planted collard greens for fall, harvested lots of green beans, tomatoes, eggplants and the entire potato crop - 7 volunteer spuds!  

After a small get together with friends, I'm off to host the Monday night contra dance.  No dancing on my bum knee, but I'll knit a Trailside hat and chat with friends.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Buying Less Fiber - with a Minor Exception or 2!

This morning I was looking at a Yahoo group digest email (Spin-Sales; yarnandfiber; FleeceforSale - one of those) and a seller was offering a delightful fleece for sale. The picture looked delightful - lovely gray color, good breed, right price - but I was not seriously tempted. In my earlier spining days, I would have jumped all over that fleece. But this morning I lingered briefly thinking, that would be very nice. I have some shows coming up, so I'll need real live fleece to demo carding and spinning. A lovely fleece to process and spin. Then I clicked off.

Like most spinners I have too much fiber - washed fleece, roving in white, natural colors & hand dyed. And because I am in the fiber business, buying unnecessary fiber cuts into the bottom line. But somehow, for the most part, it's enough. The Mountain State Fair (near Asheville, NC) is just around the corner with SAFF just a few weeks after that. I can wait untill I can see, touch, smell the fleece. Online pictures are tempting, but not enough. The real sheepy deal is just around the corner. I'l leave that beautiful fleece for somebody else. My fleece is waiting for me at the fair or SAFF.

Then I saw a note about the PhatFiber giveaway. Today the featured seller is Rachel, of My8KidsMom and Counting Sheep Farm fame. When looking at her shop, I didn't just decide what I liked, I bought it! Mulberry silk undyed roving. I don't have that - at least not undyed. I can dye that. I can blend that. She had 2. I bought then both! I paid retail! Yikes. I can't wait to get it!