Friday, October 9, 2009


I've decided to name the cria" Picasso". Still no birthing activity from Catawissa. Today is the set up for the craft show and it is pouring. It has been that way an awful lot this year, but now it is cold too! And my sister Juliet and I are camping. Back to packing.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Cria!

After acting odd for the previous week, Friday morning Oct 2nd Chickapee (black, sitting) gave birth to a beautiful little male! He is brown with black points, scampering around...adorable. Catawissa was also due on the fifth of Oct but so far nothing has happened. I have a show this weekend and wanted her little one born before I left. Still a little time. Any suggestions for names?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Alpaca Shearing Day

Wednesday was the long awaited shearing day. Bud and Karen from Shores Fiber Farm brought their trailer down from Ulster to use as a shearing shed. My friend Denise stopped by and took this photo of me clipping burdocks out of Boo's topknot before he was sheared. Bud handled the actual shearing and shots while I collected fiber and attempted to keep them as calm as possible! The strange surroundings and buzzing of the electric clippers got them rather excited. They all look so different without the bushy fiber. The first thing they did back in the pasture was roll in the dirt, I guess it is itchy like a fresh haircut. It was a long but satisfying day.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We did it!

I got up bright and early yesterday. All my jury items were packed and ready. I drove to Shamokin Dam to meet up with Dixie, a friend and fellow member of the Williamsport Chapter of the PA Guild of Craftsmen. She does awesome wheat weaving and was scheduled for the same jury session. Her husband Matt drove us the rest of the way to Lancaster. She seemed like a cool cucumber, until we got there, then she admitted that her nerves were frazzled too! We set up our displays and went for a walk. We stopped at a few galleries and then decided on a bite to eat. If we were going to get bad news we preferred not to hear it with empty stomachs! At the scheduled time we returned to the jury room... and both of us were greated with our seals! The feeling of relief is a wonderful thing. So happy!!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Art Tote

Here is one of the many projects I've been working on. The picture is one of my paintings, Valley Sunset, reproduced on canvas. All of the fabric colours are natural dyes and the button is natural dyed felted wool. Inside are two pockets, one is zippered.
This month was filled with deadlines for show applications, and I am attempting to get juried at the state level. My jury session is scheduled for March 31st in Lancaster, wish me luck! I have fleeting moments of confidence interspersed with long stretches of trepidation.
I also moved some of my equipment over the last two weeks. The loom that was on the downstairs enclosed porch is now upstairs in the loom room. The sewing and yarn processing station had to move across the hall to make space for the loom. The downstairs porch is now available for seed starting. (I still need to place my seed order!) The trick now is to remember where everything is so I spend less time spinning in a circle.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Philadelphia Flower Show

Yesterday I embarked on my annual sojourn to the 2009 Philadelphia Flower Show. Philly got nailed pretty hard with the snow storm on monday. The severe cold temperatures kept the March snow intact, but inside the convention center it is spring. The theme this year was Italy and some displays were better than others at evoking Italia. I am, however, never disappointed at the opportunity to experience flowers. Spring bulb flowers, incredible tiny iris, blooming cherry trees, wisteria, azalea, roses, delphinium and an incredibly fragrant blooming grapefruit are just a few of the flowers we saw. An exhibit that got raves from me featured a plethora of lilies and amaryllis in amazing colours. All the way home I was imagining how to recreate the beautiful shading with my natural dyed wool. So many ideas that my head is spinning! I must get to work...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lily Vessel

This project has kept me busy for a few days. The idea came to me one night and I had to make it. The wool for the inside of the flower was natural dyed with brazilwood, the outside with coreopsis. The petal portion was done with wet felting and the removable stamen and pistils were done with needle felting using alpaca fiber. The inside of the flower looks like a flame and it is 13" wide. The inspiration for this piece came from the luscious photography in the seed catalogs that I pour over this time of year. Come on spring!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Warm Wool

This odd looking pile is natural dyed wool drying on the coal stove. It actually got too hot so I had to move it over to the edge. It is a coarser wool than the type usually used for felting, but it is what I have available. I scoured it, dried it, carded it, cooked it in a mordant bath and then finally dyed it. I also dyed some red from Brazil wood and orange from coreopsis, but I couldn't stack any higher!

Last evening was 'Art Walk' in Bloomsburg, where artists are paired with downtown businesses and the public follows a map to visit everyone. I was a participating artist in a clothing store called Kricket Square. The weather was cold and blustery so the event was more lightly attended than in the past. We did have some wonderful visitors though, especially the BU art students who hung out for a while. Hi guys!

Today I am heading to NJ to investigate freelance designing of handbags, drop off my painting "Blue Moon"to it's new owner and go to a tea party with Alice at my former guild.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Fulled and Felted Handwoven Scarf

After spending a week working as a "freelance floral designer" for Valentine's Day, I am happy to be back in my studio. The bottom picture is the scarf as it came off the loom. The warp is natural dyed merino wool, the weft is natural dyed corriedale, nat dye handspun alpaca and a nat dye silk scarf that I ripped into strips. I carefully fulled it by hand so I wouldn't dislodge the silk scarf strips. Then I added bands of wool that I dyed with goldenrod to the selvedge areas to create a border, and help hold the silk in place. The colours are like warm sunshine and day lilies, they make me happy!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Alpaca Colours

These are the yummy new colours that resulted from plying the natural dyed skeins of alpaca together. They are sooo soft. I make them to sell but sometimes they are tough to part with!

Here is one of the colours on the spinning wheel.
On another note, yesterday I ended up doing the presentation at the Susquehanna Valley Spinners and Weavers Guild February meeting. Sunday morning around eleven o'clock I was getting ready to clean rabbit coops and the phone rang. It seems the scheduled speaker for the afternoon was down with the flu. I found my screen, my notes, borrowed my dad's projector and spoke to the group of (very tolerant!) members about art and fiber and myself. We all survived. I am glad I was able to help out.

The Hat

I actually wore the hat that I said would 'never' be worn. I should never say never! I needle felted fiber to the inside to cover up the thin spots, then added natural dyed fiber and yarn design elements. At my mom's nudging I sewed a grossgrain ribbon inside to create a hat band or sweat band or whatever it's called. The search for ribbon was hampered by the latest snowstorm but finally mission accomplished. The very first person that saw it said "I like your hat" (I, of course, was thrilled to pieces) and I got to say "thanks, I made it!"

Friday, January 30, 2009

Pink Alpaca

Here are some of the colours I have been natural dyeing this week. The yarn is from white alpaca that I spun. I washed the fiber several times before I spun it and washed again afterwards. Then I simmered it in an alum and cream of tartar mordant bath. This helps the dye adhere to the fiber. The yarn pictured (top left) was dyed with madder. The lovely green came from goldenrod with an indigo overdye. I extracted the goldenrod in the fall, and stored the dye in plastic milk jugs. The pink is from cochineal. There is purple someplace too, from overdyeing the pink with blue. After the yarns dry I will put them back through the spinning wheel to ply them together to make unusual multi colour yarns.

A special thank you to the lovely Lucy Lane who, through her kind words, has encouraged me to perservere with my hat. It is looking better. More to come on that next week! In the meantime I made two more alpaca felt hats but broke my plastic bucket while doing the last one. That is the end of hats until I can find another form to work on. The two new ones are much thicker, sturdier and 'hat like'. Now the real fun begins, decorating them!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chocolate and Peanut Butter

I spun a spool of Catawissa's lovely brown fiber and then carded some together with fawn alpaca. I just finished plying the two singles together and the colour looks so much like a peanut butter cup that it is making hungry! I will ply the second spool now. I am working next to the coal stove where it is wonderfully warm. We managed to keep the fire going all night, more than 24 hours at this point. The temperature was in single digits again last night with a light coating of fresh snow.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Alpaca Hat

I have never seen anyone felt a hat, but I read about it on the internet! This is my first effort made with fiber from my alpaca "Catawissa" and some from "Boo" that I dyed pink with cochineal. No one will ever wear this one because it is a bit too thin. Next time I will make the layers thicker and have a better idea about how to handle the brim. I certainly have enough fiber to try another! Today I am multitasking as usual: washing alapca, washing sheeps wool, cleaning rabbit coops, carding alpaca...later I will sit still and spin for awhile.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spinning Rabbit

This morning I just finished spinning the fiber from my English angora rabbit, Blimunda, that I harvested last week. I blended her wool with some targhee (a type of sheep's wool) that I had previously cleaned. The result is a lovely heathered soft gray, but I will most likely overdye it. The heather will create wonderful tonals within the dye colour.

I usually cry at weddings, births, funerals... Yesterday was the first time I cried watching an inauguration. They were tears of joy on a day filled with hope. I don't have television service so I invited myself to my parents house for the momentus event. There was not a dry eye in the kitchen. So much possibility, so much resting on the shoulders of an eloquent and capable young man. For the first time in a very long time, I feel proud to be an American.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Deep Freeze

Cold, cold COLD! All I could think of was the Little Feat song... Frozen pipes (that were supposed to be producing heat), burst in two places. Icicles were hanging in the house. Of course I was not the only one. My brother Jon fixed me up, and the coal stove kept the rest of the house from freezing solid. On Saturday I did manage to get some of my new work to ArtSpace Gallery before the reception on Saturday night. Adding to the stress level, my computer had frozen too. New day, new week and as of yesterday Marks' son Andy and wife April have a new baby. Welcome Brayden!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

River Sunset

The actual painting is quite a bit brighter than my photo. Next time I will improve lighting (which means I will do something) since doing nothing didn't work so great. I just realized I didn't sign it yet. I have another painting underway.
Last night was our monthly meeting at ArtSpace Cooperative Gallery in Bloomsburg. It was snowing heavily when I left the house, the beautiful kind of snow that coats every branch. At the gallery a crew spackled and touched up the myriad of holes we made over the course of the past year. We hung our show which opens on Thursday with a reception on Saturday. After the meeting I sat in for a few minutes at the River Poets monthly gathering in a building around the corner, a thoroughly enjoyable event.
Update on the rabbit; she looks better without a fur tutu, but her mane still needs some work. I simply ran out of time. Harvesting fiber from a bunny cannot be rushed!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Painting in the Making

Here it is in the middle of construction. I had fun doing the colour washes, now is the tedious part. About half of the weft painting strips are in place. After it is fully assembled I'll tack all the edges and then use acrylic medium to 'glue' it down.
I discovered I can't purchase the dip I wanted to print on fabric until the weather warms up. It can't freeze and temps across the country are heading sub zero for the next little while. Patience Linda! In the meantime I've ordered some prepared sheets to try.
Last night I started painting on fabrics that I natural dyed with marigolds and brazilwood. I've been planning this project for so long I can't believe I'm finally doing it. At some point I must pause the painting and finish shearing Blimunda (English angora rabbit) She is almost done but looks like she is wearing a skirt at the moment. Don't worry, the little darling is snug and warm even without her angora coat. She has the electric radiator that is usually in my room. I have to count on the cats to keep my feet warm at night for awhile!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Me and my Sisters

On Saturday I brought along a photo album with shots of the fab five from diapers on up. Left is Anita, Juliet, moi and Kathy on the right. Brother Jon had been shoveling all afternoon and had already gone home. It was so great they all braved the snow to join me in kicking off another decade. The food was excellent. Mom made my favorite Hungarian meal, csirke paprikas and I had birthday apple pie instead of cake.
The snowfall prevented the Susquehanna Valley Spinners and Weavers Guild meeting from happening, so my presentation will be rescheduled. I used the 'free time' to start a new painting, sunset on the river. It felt good to break out some bright colours on a dreary day. I will continue working on it today.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Happy Birthday to me, well tomorrow actually, but my dear siblings are making the trip to see me today. It is January and therefore snowing, excitement that we didn't really need. Wish for safe travels to all.
I hooked up an ink jet printer to my PC this morning in preparation for printing some of my art onto fabric. I still need to order the special fabric dip so I can't get any further on that project today. Yesterday I washed some white and cream alpaca and I am waiting for it to dry so I can card it.
If the weather eases up in time I'll be the presenter at the Susquehanna Valley Spinners and Weavers Guild meeting in Lewisburg tomorrow afternoon. This was my first foray into power point, and my first ever blog in the same week! I must not be too far over the hill yet. Must bake some cookies now as I am bringing refreshments too.