Archive for the ‘trips’ Category

Farm Felt Baash!

This weekend I was at a needle felting retreat on a farm down by Rochester and it was sooo much fun! I was so excited to meet other needle felters, and the weekend did not disappoint! Amy from Needle & Felt hosted the retreat and I met lots of wonderful ladies including Ginger, Mary, and Amanda who all have Etsy shops that I wanted to link to because their stuff is so cool! Ginger makes all kinds of stuff including needle felted things, nuno felted things, and hollow book boxes! Mary makes neat bags, many shaped like animals, and Amanda makes lots of needle felted things including these absolutely amazing needle felted masks! Amy and Ginger both have blogs too, with lots of cute fiber things, and sheep pictures! And I think I need to stop using exclamation points before I hurt myself.

On Saturday there was much cuddling of lambs and baby goats, with lots and lots of pictures of all the animals, and we got to play with all different types of fibers and some new kinds of needles and see each others’ felted stuff and just generally hang out and chat. At the end of the day everybody made their own sheep so we had our own little flock, and it’s amazing how many different kinds of sheep we all came up with! Now, pictures!

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Sunday was a shorter day, but no less exciting! Amanda graciously showed us how to make felted masks, and I think I’m addicted now. She has some really amazing ones (you really should check out her Etsy shop, there are some amazing masks, and other things of course), and I don’t expect I’ll make any quite as beautifully lifelike, but they are fun. I was so busy working on my mask though, and trying to get it done because I had to drive home that day, that I didn’t get many pictures. Here are the few I did get.

I didn’t manage to get a picture of Amy’s mask cause it wasn’t very far along by the time I had to leave :-(. The whole weekend was so much fun, and I hear it’s already being planned for next year so hopefully I can make it again!

Our next ATC exchange is this Thursday (the theme is Spring so the snow better be gone again by then!) so I should have lots of pictures for you soon after that!

Yarn Bombing in Sioux Falls

I’m back! The last couple weeks have been crazy busy for me, I had a library conference down in Sioux Falls, SD and then an SCA event this past weekend, with homework in between. While I didn’t find much time to work on fiber things, I did discover some great yarn bombing at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls.

The Washington Pavilion seems to have a Dr. Seuss exhibit going on, and I think the yarn bombing is part of that. There’s all kinds of great sleeves on the trees in front of the building and the light poles in a courtyard off to the side. There was also this great yarn spider-web in one of the trees, it was really neat. So here are the pictures!

We’ll call it a progress report

I was in Wyoming last week for my cousin’s wedding, we got back to town Wednesday, and that’s totally my excuse for not posting sooner. Then I got home and got lazy, *sigh* sometimes I just feel like being a lazy bum. But now I’m going to post! Cause I need to clean off my dining room table so I can do more crafting, and if I tell you guys I’m gonna clean, then I’ll probably do it! Anyway, I did some fiber stuff on my trip, and got some new fiber and fibery things, to tell you about. And then I have an update on the Dreambird project I’ve been working on!

First, my fiber acquisitions.

On the way to Wyoming we made a stop at this great fabric store in Billings, MT, called Fiberworks. They had some of the neatest fabrics I’ve seen, and definitely the best collection of animal print fabrics I’ve ever seen at a store, along with lots of cool patterns. That’s where we got the penguin pattern. My cousin Colleen wants me to make a penguin for her, and I’m thinking I may start playing with colorful penguins… sometimes I’m a bit too ambitious I think, we’ll see how that goes. I also got the blue felt there, which I plan to use as the background for a couple pieces I’m doing for another show with the Designing Quilters, called Beauty and the Breast. It should be an interesting show, and those pieces are what I want to work on when I finally get the table cleared off. We also went to a fabric store in Wyoming which is where I got the plaid fabric. I just loved the colors, and it was on sale, so we got it for me to use to make an apron dress for SCA stuff. It is cotton, which isn’t exactly accurate for the time period and location, but it’s so pretty! And I figure it will be nice to have a somewhat lighter-weight apron dress.

The quilt blocks have a fun story behind them. I like to geocache, which is like a worldwide treasure hunt where people hide little containers (called caches), sometimes with little knick knacks in them, sometimes with just logs, and then post the GPS coordinates to the cache online and other people try to find them. It’s lots of fun actually, although when I first heard about it I thought it sounded strange and boring, but it’s not! The point is, there was a quilting themed geocache in the town where we were staying! I got my mom and my aunt to come with and find that cache which is where we found the quilt blocks, and then left a few buttons in exchange, because the rules are that if you take something you leave something of equal value. I’m not totally sure what I’ll do with the quilt blocks, but my mom suggested making them into a box of sorts to store/display the stuff I find from geocaches, and I like that idea. Then, on our last day in Wyoming, we stopped at a thrift store in town, which had great prices, which is where we found the pattern for the cute little sheep (I want to say it’s a counted cross-stitch pattern). It was actually a kit, but it looks like it’s missing the thread at least, unless it came with almost no thread, but it’s cute and it still has the directions and chart, so I’ll have to try it one of these days. Counted cross-stitch is one of those techniques I’ve never tried, and only been marginally interested in trying.

And now, the dreambird shawl!

I’ve been moving almost painfully slowly on it. I’m not quite sure why, cause it always feels like I’m making great progress as I work on it, and then it just feels like I stall out and suddenly it’s taking me a couple hours for each feather. And I can’t quite pinpoint a certain section that’s taking extra time, cause each section separately seems to go quite quickly and easily. Maybe I just have a weird sense of time when I’m working on it, although there is the saying that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. So maybe extra time is just disappearing… yeah, doesn’t make sense to me either. But I think I’m almost half done with the shawl, so maybe just another month or so, I hope.


Now, I need to go clean off my dining room table. It’s where I take most of my pictures and I seem to just pile up the stuff I’m taking pictures of all over the table. And the sewing machine is set up there. The poor table is just not that big, so I need to do something about the mess. And now, because I’ve told you that I’m going to clean, I might actually do it!

messy, messy table

messy, messy table

Abq FAF final exhibits

I’ve got four exhibits to go in this post, but it shouldn’t be much more to the post than the others. I had totally forgotten that I took some pictures of the rug hooking exhibit, so I figured I’d toss those in with the ones I already had planned for this post.

First is the quilt exhibit, and there are a lot of these pictures. This was the biggest exhibit, and was actually split up into two locations cause there wasn’t space in just one! There were some very nice pieces with some interesting techniques and textures. Overall I quite enjoyed the exhibit.

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So it seems that I lied when I said this post would still be about the same size as the others. In fact there’s twice as many pictures as in any of the other exhibit posts :-D. The thing is, when I write a post, I don’t upload any of the pictures until I reach the point where I want to use a picture, at which point I upload them all. And this time it was a lot of pictures.

Anyway, next is the youth exhibit. I thought it was great that they had a youth exhibit, and there were some very nice pieces, and of course, some that were definitely not great pieces of art or very well made, but I have no problem with that because the kids tried and I figure they must have enjoyed making them if they put them in an exhibit. I chatted a bit with the woman who was manning (or should that be womanning?) the exhibit, and she said there was a little girl who came by and was incredibly excited to see her piece on display in a case, and was thrilled that she got a ribbon (all the kids got participation ribbons), and for that I would gladly look at a bunch of absolutely terrible pieces, it was just a plus that there weren’t any that I would say were terrible. I didn’t take many pictures of the youth exhibit though, lots of the pieces were very similar in a way that suggested they had been made in a class, so I took pictures of a few of the more unique pieces, cause I figured you guys won’t be interested to see a bunch of sloppy pieces that are all about the same.

Next is the clothing exhibit. I’m not really that in to clothes, unless they’re medieval clothes, in which case I get quite intrigued, but a few of the clothing pieces caught my eye as worth sharing.

And finally, the hooked rugs exhibit. This is the one I forgot I had taken pictures of, but it’s a good one. I have done a little bit of rug hooking and enjoyed it well enough, though I didn’t fall in love with either the process or the end product. But I really liked some of these pieces. I know I wouldn’t have the patience, and may not have the skill, to make most of these designs that I liked the best, but they’re just those pieces that inspire you and make you want to try the technique, convinced that the result will be amazing. I might try rug hooking again, I do have the hook tool now, but probably not for a while. And now I will stop rambling and show you the pictures!


Well, that wraps up my coverage of the Albuquerque (I’ll be glad not to have to type that anymore!) Fiber Arts Fiesta. It was a really fun event to go to, and I hope you enjoyed the pictures, but I’m ready to move on in my blogging. I think I’ve used up enough time, and I’ve got a bit more work done on various projects, so I’ll have something to post about. I’m going out of town this weekend so there won’t be any more posts until next week, but then I’ll give you an update on my two big knitting projects, the Dreambird and the Kimono Cardigan, and I have a needle felting project to share!

Abq FAF Mixed Media and Knitting Exhibits

The mixed media exhibit is the first one I saw when we walked in, and at that point I was a bit confused and thought it was the only exhibit. Anyway, I think this was my favorite exhibit out of all of them, even the knitting exhibit. Maybe it’s because there isn’t really a “traditional” way to do mixed media pieces, but I’ve always found them to be much more consistently unique and personally expressive than other genres of fiber work. Some of the pictures are quite blurry, I apologize, but these ones were all taken with my phone and some are the very first ones I took with my phone, before I figured out how to get the best pictures out of it.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the knitting exhibit as well, of course. I say knitting exhibit but this is actually the hand knitting exhibit, there was also a machine knitting exhibit which I didn’t look at very closely or take pictures of. I don’t dislike machine knitting but it just doesn’t interest me, and the finished pieces just never seem as complex, at least the ones I’ve seen. There were two or three more beautiful lace shawls in the exhibit that I took pictures of but I haven’t posted them because they came out so blurry that even I won’t  make you look at them. Which is a shame really, cause they’re beautiful pieces.

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I’ve really only got one exhibit left that I have many pictures of, and that’s the quilt exhibit. I also have a few pictures of the sewn garments exhibit and the youth exhibit, but that’s a total of about 6 pieces combined on those two. So those exhibits will be what’s coming up next, and then I’ll have to start actually putting work into my posts again! 😉

Abq FAF Embroidery and Crochet exhibits

For some reason I don’t really feel like writing much today, but I will share more pictures with you, cause I’m sure you’re eager to see them. The format for these is the same as the last post, if the label for the piece is not visible/legible in the original picture, then there is a close-up of the label following the picture, to make sure everybody gets credit for their work.


The embroidery exhibit appeared to have been a competition with several categories along the lines of non-original designs, original designs, and colcha embroidery. I think the categories were a bit more complex than that, but that’s really the salient information. If I didn’t mention it before, each exhibit was put together by the appropriate guild in Albuquerque, so the formats of the exhibits varied a little bit, as did the sizes of course.

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I will admit that I generally don’t find crochet as interesting as other techniques. I don’t know what it is, it just tends to seem boring to me, and I don’t find basic crochet stitches to be very visually appealing. That being said, I found some really beautiful pieces in the crochet exhibit that just struck me. So it seems I just haven’t been looking at the right crochet stuff.

Abq FAF Weaving and Silk Painting Displays

Before I get to the weaving and silk painting display, I realized that I left out one of the vendors that was quite educational for me! The booth was a woman’s fabric/quilt designs and she was demo-ing free-hand machine stitching. I don’t think she was there when I walked by the first time cause I just figured it was a fabric booth and I didn’t stop but my mom told me about this great booth with a woman doing machine embroidery, so she took me back there after lunch. This was the first time I had ever had a chance to talk to someone who does machine embroidery and it was great. The technique she uses is to make the shape on dissolvable stabilizer in such a way that the shape can hold itself together, and then dissolve the stabilizer. Then she puts the shapes on quilts and uses them in her designs. Most of what she had, at least that I saw, were trees, bushes, and coral, but she said she has had students make animals and letters that way and you could make pretty much any shape. So it was good to talk to her about machine embroidery, and I got a chance to just watch her work which was good for me too, and we had a bit of a discussion about creativity and how everybody can be creative if we just get out of our own way.

Now, on to the displays! Really there’s not a lot for me to say about the various exhibits, so the posts about them will probably be mostly pictures, possibly with a few captions. I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the weaving or silk painting exhibits so I figured it will work best to combine them into one post. First, the weaving exhibit. All of the entries were hand-woven, and while it didn’t say so, I assume they were woven on floor looms of various sorts. Because I think it’s very important for people to get credit for there work, I also took pictures of all of the labels on the pieces and those will be following the picture of the piece, if the labels are not in the original picture. It may be that no one who knows any of these people ever see my blog posts, but they deserve the credit no matter what! Please excuse the lower quality of some of the pictures as about half my pictures were taken with my phone. The batteries in my camera died :-(.

Next is the silk painting exhibit. These weren’t necessarily all painted as such, a few were printed on a computer printer and I think there was another technique or two that I can’t remember. Basically they were all pieces that began as a plain white piece of silk and were modified, all except one being by adding color, to create images or shapes. I had never seen silk paintings that were as vibrant or precise and crisp as some of these, and I was incredibly impressed.

That’s the weaving and silk painting exhibits. There were quite a few more pieces in each exhibit, but these were the ones that most struck me, and I just couldn’t take the time to get good pictures of everything. If you want to see it all you’ll have to go to the next Fiber Arts Fiesta :-).

Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta

Well it’s taken me a bit longer than I intended to get things in order and start telling you about the Fiber Arts Fiesta, but I have an excuse! Not only did I have to get back into the swing of normal life, work has just been crazy all week. Apparently everyone decided over Memorial Weekend that they need to go to the library more, so we have been making new library cards for people constantly and barely keeping up with the shelving. But enough of my excuses, and on to the part you really want to read.

The Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta is a fiber festival that happens every other year in, where else, Albuquerque (that is ridiculously hard to type!), New Mexico. My mom went a few years ago and really liked it so this year she took me with her and went back. And it was so much fun! It’s in a great big building on the fair grounds which is chock-full of fiber stuff, including exhibits of all kinds of techniques (I’ll be posting about each exhibit in it’s own separate post cause there was so much in each), a great education area, and, of course, vendors of all kinds. Since there’s so much to cover I’m going to split it across several posts and I think I’ll start myself off slowly by telling you about the education section and the vendors.

The education section was just wonderful. It was as big as some of the exhibits and had lots of good examples of techniques with signs about the techniques. I only saw one place you could try a technique, which was weaving, but that would be the only thing I think they were missing. There was a great little table with all kinds of tools, including a group of “watchamacallits” which just amused me, and a wonderful set of boards about fiber and fiber arts in general. I found out that the boards actually travel to schools around the state to introduce kids to Fiber Arts, which I think is just a great idea. The whole education area really inspired me to try and improve the general educational stuff we have at the Fiber Arts Festival here, and gave me some great ideas of how to do just that. The pictures are in a slideshow format, unusual for me, so be sure you flip through and see all of them.

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*Public Service Announcement* The next chunk is all about the vendors at the Fiesta and I have included links to any that I have web pages, or Etsy pages, for. I have not been compensated for the advertisements, nor was I asked by any to do this, I just like to promote small businesses and like to share good crafting resources I find with people who might be interested. Please feel no obligation to look at the web pages, unless you think they would be interesting, in which case you should look, because you know you want to ;-). *End Announcement*

The vendors were also quite good (please bear with me if I am saying everything is wonderful or awesome, I’ve been known to do that), and there was a nice variety; it wasn’t “all wool and yarn” as my mother often complains about. There were, of course, several good yarn vendors and a few wool and roving vendors, although I didn’t spend as much time there as I had expected. I did get some beautiful roving at a place called Chamomile Connection, and one new kind of yarn, but that was it. The yarn is actually another self-ruffling yarn that I haven’t seen before, which I got at a lovely local yarn store called Village Wools. It’s basically a strip of fabric with evenly spaced holes across the top (pictures in a moment), and the label is totally in Spanish! Luckily the directions inside the label also have pictures, cause I don’t know any Spanish. The other vendor I noticed who had exclusively roving was this interesting non-profit fiber mill. I had never heard of a non-profit fiber mill before, but they explained that their mission is to train and employ impoverished locals, which I thought was pretty cool. I didn’t get any roving from them, cause they mostly had natural colored wools and I just don’t work with that much, but I found the idea incredibly interesting, and they had great prices.

Beyond the yarn and roving vendors, there were several vendors selling various antique and Eastern fabrics and textiles, including one selling kimono fabric (my mom loved that booth and even got a kimono-style jacket). There were a few button and bead places, including a woman making some very interesting button and vaguely steam-punk jewelry (I almost bought a watch from her made of tiny Mahjong tiles, and I may still buy it from her Etsy shop) and a woman who makes raku and metal beads (that’s raku beads and metal beads, not the two combined into one bead. That could be cool though). And then there was this really cool booth that was selling fabric and doll patterns, and had all kinds of dolls all over the booth. I just loved that one because of all the great, bright colors and shiny things and most of the dolls were actually really neat, rather than creepy like most dolls seem to be. Sadly, they didn’t allow pictures of their booth, but it’s their work and their booth, so that’s how it goes. I did get a couple patterns and a bit of fabric from them though, so I have pictures of those! And there was one booth that had all kinds of braiding stuff, but mostly Kumihimo (a Japanese braiding technique), where I got a kit to try a flat kumihimo braid, which I haven’t done before.

There were a couple little booths where I spent a lot more time chatting with the vendors than looking at their stuff, and discovered both of them were originally from up here! One was from Wisconsin and the other was from Devil’s Lake, ND, what a coincidence. The woman from Devil’s Lake was selling this really neat wire jewelry. Now, I know that making wire jewelry is quite popular lately and doesn’t seem like anything special, but what was special was the techniques she was using. She had a few pieces she had crocheted but most of the jewelry was made using Kumihimo, and she had a few pieces made using a technique called netting, and some made on a floor loom! That was the first time I had seen any of those techniques done in wire and boy did they look cool. The woman from Wisconsin had lampwork beads, and I may have convinced her to try making penguin shaped lampwork beads, but mostly we talked about needle felting and spinning because she has done a little of both and wants to do more. Sadly, neither of them has a website because I would love to be able to promote their stuff, oh well.

So, that was the educational and shopping portion of my time at the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta, and boy was it fun! It also resulted in a much longer post than I expected, but that’s okay. Now I have to decide which exhibit I will post about first, maybe the knitting one, although the rug-hooking was quite neat, and there were some amazing quilts. Such difficult decisions!

Albuquerque Fiber Fiesta Preview

I am in Albuquerque, New Mexico this weekend, with my mother and our friend Anne, to check out the Albuquerque Fiber Fiesta, and we are having a great time. There are all kinds of exhibits, from knitting to rug hooking to silk painting, and of course lots of vendors with cool stuff. I’ve been learning new methods and applications for techniques I already know, like weaving with wire and free-hand machine stitching on dissolvable interfacing, and met and talked with lots of really interesting and inspiring people. And now I am so ready to get home and play! Of course, I have lots of pictures and stories to share with you, but I don’t have any way to upload the pictures until I get home, so you’ll have to wait a little while longer. I’ll be out of town until Sunday, but after that will be writing several posts, because there’s no way I could fit it all in one. So get ready to see some great fiber stuff!

Frilly Scarves!

Recently there’s been a bunch of yarns coming out that you just knit or crochet using an edge of the yarn and it creates a lacy, frilly scarf all by itself. They look wonderfully fancy and intricate but are in fact really simple and fast to make, often not taking more than half an hour, maybe a couple hours if you’re going slowly. One thing I have discovered is that there’s a huge variety in these yarns and they are not all created equally! The first yarn I used (which I don’t have any pictures of because I gave away the final product and forgot to take pictures first!) was essentially a ribbon yarn that had an extra section across the top where you knit/crochet. This resulted in the ribbon part bunching together and looking quite fancy and lush, very neat. This yarn was actually found by my mom’s friend and they couldn’t figure out how to use it (really they were doing everything right but the first few rows look like a mess at first) so I figured it out and just knit the whole scarf.

Then I was out getting other yarn and discovered a similar yarn on sale. “Yarn on sale” is just such a dangerous phrase for us yarn lovers! Anyway, this stuff looked a little bit different but was a LOT cheaper than the first stuff I had used and the first stuff worked so well I figured I’d get several colors of this stuff and voila! easy Christmas presents. You might have guessed by my choice of words, but that’s not exactly what happened. Basically the differences from the first yarn made it a lot more difficult to work with. I will explain with pictures.

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This yarn is a mesh rather than a ribbon yarn with an extra border. Doesn’t seem like it would be a big issue, but when it’s wound into a ball the mesh is all collapsed down, and it has a tendency to twist. To knit just the top row of the mesh you have to spread the mesh out enough to find the top row and when the yarn twists on itself that’s even more difficult. That slowed me down considerably and was quite frustrating. So rather than the three scarves I had planned to make for Christmas with this kind of yarn, I made one. The other two may still get made for later occasions but when I make those I’m going to unwind the yarn and flatten out the mesh all the way through before I start knitting, a co-worker has told me that makes it much easier to deal with. The resulting scarf is quite pretty though, and wonderfully fun to pet and play with.

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The other two self-ruffling yarns I’ve worked with are rather different from the first two and are much fancier. I actually discovered these two at a great little yarn shop in the Twin Cities called Unwind Yarn Shop, and, of course, they were on sale, so I just couldn’t resist! One is essentially a machine knit tube which you are supposed to knit or crochet along one edge of, I crocheted, and the other is pretty much impossible to describe but is worked in the same manner. Pictures will help.

Both of these yarns worked like a dream. I don’t think they would have been all that easy to knit with, it just seems like things would get bulky and really tight around the needles, but crocheting them was very easy. And to crochet them you are basically just chain stitching right up the side, so you don’t even need to have any experience crocheting! These also turned out just beautifully. I gave one to my mom, but the blue one is mine and I’m not letting go of it!

That’s my exploration of self-ruffling yarn. It’s some pretty cool stuff. I’m not usually that into yarns that have a specific purpose (like eyelash yarns) but these work just great and are pretty cool. You definitely get what you pay for in terms of ease of use though.

And on a completely different note, this is my thirtieth post! And, I need to learn not to write posts late at night, especially when I plan to be productive the next day! Ah, procrastination.

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