09 February 2013

A Thin Line

I took a workshop today on various methods of plying. I spun the thinnest yarn I've made so far. This is so much different from what I'm used to!

12 May 2012

Mammoth Hot Springs Felted Scarf

Mammoth Hot Springs Felted Scarf by pearhug studio
One of my fiber goals is to use fiber to create pieces to capture memories of some of the most amazing and moving places I've had the privilege of visiting. I wanted to start with things I have witnessed and experienced in national parks.

I took a trip to  Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 2004. One of my favorite places in the park was Mammoth Hot Springs, a geothermal terrace of amazing natural changes:

The step-like terraces form as heated water moves along the Morris-Mammoth Fault. The hot water carries dissolved calcium and bicarbonate to the surface of the terraces where pressure lessens. Carbon dioxide then escapes as gas and the carbonate combines with calcium to precipitate as travertine. 
The Mammoth Terraces are constantly changing shape and color. Springs which were active one to five years ago may be dry and lifeless now, yet activity may later resume. Along with changes of thermal activity come changes in color. Fresh travertine is bright white in color and as it weathers it changes to gray. Bright colored cyanobacteria and algae mats which were dependent upon a stable temperature and a flow of water also change as the microorganisms die creating a stark, bleak landscape.   http://www.yellowstonenationalpark.com/mammoth.htm

I wanted to make a felted piece based on my photographs of this dynamic place. I chose a few that resonated with my memory of the place the most.

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone NP

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone NP

Connie Blechle of Breezy Ridge Alpacas carded a gorgeous batt for me "made from our alpaca Derecho and then blended with teal wool and then painted in some firestar as I carded." To say it is soft is an understatement-I had NEVER touched a fiber this soft in my life. Connie also has amazing customer service on her Breezy Ridge Alpacas Etsy store.

I wanted to make a scarf that was light and airy, but thick enough to showcase the gorgeous mix of fibers. White, fawn, blue, green sparkle...they all needed to be shown! I decided on a mix between cobweb felting and regular wet felting so that there are still airy spaces where the fiber just seems to hold together magically. I focused on drafting the fibers apart so I would get my desired effect.

I laid out some bubble wrap on my kitchen counter and carefully laid out the fibers from the batt:

Laying out the fibers

Next, I covered the fibers with tulle and wet it down with hot, soapy water. I then took a plastic bag and used it as a glove to flatten and saturate the water into the fiber. 

Wetting down the tulle-covered fibers with hot, soapy water

I took a pool noodle and rolled up the scarf. I made a bundle by then rolling it in a towel and tying the bundle with some panty hose ties. 

The next few steps involve the felting process, which I completed with rounds in the dryer on the no heat setting. The hot water, soap, and agitation cause the fibers to lock together and felt. Every now and then, I'd unroll the bundle, check on the fibers, and roll it up in another direction. I also alternated putting the bubble side and the flat side against the fiber when rolling my bundle. 

When I had decided the scarf was felted enough, I ran it through cool water and shocked the fibers by dropping the scarf several times. By stretching the fibers in various directions, I was able to give the scarf some shape and also check to see if I was happy with the degree of felting. I rolled up the scarf in a towel to remove excess water, fixed the fibers one more time, and left it to air dry. I will admit I also would put it in the dryer with heat just by itself for about 5 minutes at a time. 

With the flash, you can really see the different textures and patterns the suri alpaca, merino wool, and glitzy firestar felt together to make a unique piece of felt in a scarf that drapes beautifully.  

I loved the process of finally executing an idea I've had for over a year. It makes me excited about the possibilities I have and gives me the confidence that I can give myself permission to play around in the process of creation instead of just the end result. To use a process like felting where natural fibers are somehow manipulated to create a new form is also the same idea as the minerals, gases, and elements changing one form to another during a process-something that resonates deeply within me. 

I love how the texture mimics the water flow patterns

Feel free to post and link in comments if you have made something fiber-related inspired by a place you've been-I'd love to hear about them. 

27 April 2012

Customer Appreciation

I received my very first customer appreciation email and photograph of what my customer made with my batt. I was THRILLED! There is just an indescribable feeling when someone randomly finds your product, purchases it, makes something from it, and SHARES it!

I called this "Wild Violets in the Snow" and carded it up with super soft undyed merino, dyed Finn locks, green and purple mylar shreds, purple merino top, and some dyed BFL locks.

Peggy, the batt purchaser from Colorado Springs, and her husband were at the inaugural Taos Fiber Marketplace at The Taos Convention Center, and here is what she had to say about Wild Violets in the Snow. (She gave me permission to put her words and images on my blog).

Hi Lucy,
I held off on spinning your art batt "Wild Violet in the Snow" until I did a show this past week end in Taos, New Mexico.  I corespun around a commercial wool yarn and ended up with two nice skeins.  I received many inquiries as to which booth I bought it at I told them about you.  I don't know if it will translate into any business for Pearhug Studio but I wanted to let you know that your work was admired. 
You cannot BELIEVE the number of people who stopped walking and came over to comment on the colors.  I shared with another vendor that I bought it because of the evocative name and loved the batt that I saw AFTERWARDS.  She understood what I was saying and the two corespun skeins have kept the batt name.  The batts that I've seen are all color and yours was very delicate and different with the colors which was so appealing to me.  Well, that and I love snow (Michigan baby and all)!  May more of your fiber dreams come true...

Peggy, your words MADE MY DAY.  Check out her beautiful core-spun yarn!

I love how the fiber world truly is a potential conversation between supplier and artist. There are so many levels of the process where these connections can take place, and I am energized that fiber art is certainly not an isolated medium. It is also super exciting to know that if I ever were to be a vendor at this convention, I might find success there. 

What is the first customer note you ever received, and how did it make you feel? Do you have a group on Ravelry or Facebook where people share the things they've made from your fiber products? I'd love to hear responses, so feel free to share! Links are also welcome. 

24 April 2012

Beesybee Giveaway!

I'm going to start entering fiber-related Giveaways because I 1. want the product! 2. want to check out the fiber community 3. want to make connections 4. I want to spread the word and promote other fiber artists. 

From Beesybee Fiber's blog: 

"So how about celebrating the arrival of spring with a special giveaway?  I will be sending to the winner 4 ounces of my “Funky Guru” Merino Top and the book Get Spun by Symeon North. I will ship the prize for free anywhere in the US and Canada. Oversees participants will pay half of the cost of shipping."

Beautiful "Funky Guru" Merino Top and Get Spun book in Beesybee's Giveaway
**photograph from Beesybee Fiber's blog**

This braid is so gorgeous. I would love to win the braid and immediately practice the techniques in the book. I have only been watching YouTube videos and would LOVE to build up a spinning reference library, or at least a collection of books in a special area. 

Share this giveaway near and far! You have until April 30 to follow the instructions on her blog to be eligible to win. You can enter in a variety of ways, too. 

To check out more from this great website, visit https://www.facebook.com/BeesybeeFibers and on etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/beesybee

21 April 2012

Words of Creative Inspiration

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it.”–Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and actualizer… He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.” –Robert L. Schwartz

Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career 

In this funny and blunt talk from TEDxUW, Larry Smith pulls no punches when he calls out the absurd excuses people invent when they fail to pursue their passions.

Explores 10 ways to stay creative while pursuing your passion

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” - Confucius

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” - Arnold Toynbee

Wool School

Due to my foot surgery, I will be on the couch and off my foot for at least 2 weeks. I decided to do something useful with my time and design a Lucy's Wool School curriculum that I will have plenty of time to follow.

First, I thought about the process of change in each level from sheep to shawl. What exactly are the fiber steps? I'm sure I'll make some sort of flow chart.

I designed Lucy's Wool School curriculum to educate through information and explore the diverse world of fiber by completing creative fiber challenges meant to inspire, focusing on the psychological process of each step. Being reflective of conscious practice is also something I want to explore on my blog. I am making the journal of my process an open one to inspire others to consciously explore working with fibers (I do say wool, but I really mean all sorts of fibers).


Ba Ba Blacksheep- Learn all about how sheep are raised, cultural history, types of fiber animals (sheep, alpaca, etc.) and information about how to describe their fiber, vocabulary words about the shearing process or fleece, microns, etc.

Have You Any Wool? 
This class explores local fiber sources in Wake County and surrounding areas. Network with some local fiber people I met on a fiber facebook group. Learn about raw AND washed natural fibers. Learn all the washing techniques possible. Learn about what to do after a fleece is washed-what areas are best for loose lock dyeing, and how does the fleece get into processed top? If so, how does that happen? Also explore ebay, fb buying, etc. Different ways to obtain fleece. Figure out a chart of observations on pricing for each fiber type.

Obtain a copy of The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook

Extra Credit: Make a fiber sampler book (I am sure there's another name for it) to put in the fiber and add notes. Organize the notebook in a way that makes sense for easy reference. Maybe baseball card holders with name at the top and experiences/tips on the card?

Dyeing Techniques
Learn fiber types to dye: Top, loose locks, silks for nuno felting, yarns, cocoons can all be dyed for natural, and then other types of dyes for bamboo, cotton, plant-based fibers.

Learn all the dye types: Resources from Nature, Kool-aid/Easter Egg dyeing, chemicals/prodyes

Learn all the techniques: Crock pot, oven, solar, syringe, space, kettle, microwave, etc.

Goal for this class will be to see if a colorway emerges that I could name and then use throughout my little projects to truly demonstrate the wide variety of products from dyed wool.

Keep a sample of each fiber and color, and store this behind the fiber type baseball card gallery.
Combs, hackles, niddy noddy, diz, hand carder, drum carder, picker, drying racks, mesh bags, a core yarn, lazy kate, skein, swift, etc.
Process Techniques

Material Girl 
This class will explore a wide variety of materials used to both spin and felt. Bamboo, tencel, angelina, silk noil, cocoons, and other luxury or rare fibers will be discussed and explored. Encouraged to use as many as the handdyed materials from previous classes.

Part 1:  Product using several batts containing a variety of materials for the artiest art batts ever. Involves learning how to spin an art batt.
Challenge: Make something from the batt. Could be yarn, felted piece, etc.

Part 2: Product using loose fibers resulting in yarn, felted piece, etc.

Items to make with Material Girl
  *wet felted vessel
* nuno felted notebook/journal cover 
 *Crochet or knitted cowl (something else small) 

Open Workshop "Exam"
Focusing on formulating a product (the usual default setting) instead of focusing on the PROCESS (a conscious choice to see what my thinking is like during these times). How does each step make me feel? Is this work satisfying? Is there a process step I like way better? If so, what to do now?

Spinning Skills
Wheel Exploration and Vocabulary, wheel care and maintenance

Spinning techniques: smooth single, corespun, lock spun, tail spun, thick and thin, add-ins like beads and sequins, autowrapped, plying (2 ply, Navaho), beehives, coils, non-traditional spinning like using vintage sheets, cassette tape innards, etc.

How to make and use a Niddy Noddy, tying off yarn

How to steam/wash/set the twist in a yarn (different techniques, thwacking v. no thwacking, steaming v. washing, etc.

Take Mikey's YouTube Curtzy Crochet 24-part lessons and 'graduate'
Make a few samples of stuff, exploring types of hooks, sizes, stitches, etc.
Use "odd" yarn like plarn, newspaper yarn, etc.

Aim for: Corespun on a wire bendable yarn and crochet something rad from it


Geodes, wool landscape paintings, journal cover, 3D figures, wet vessels, bags, pods, Nuno felting!

Business Aspects

  • Marketing-using social networking sites, using word of mouth, networking within community like with Wake County Business Moms
  • Blogging-how to blog, build audience, make a community
  • Free small business classes at Wake Tech
  • How to apply for and win artist grants and loans, how to write successful proposals
  • Pricing on all levels of fiber 
  • How to run a business, own a LLC, pay taxes, do accounting, set up a budget, etc. 
  • Where to sell: online, consign or wholesale in local shops, local festivals (already have EZ up and portable table
  • How to approach a gallery or any business about carrying/displaying my product
  • Think of products in all price ranges
  • Think of target audience/crowd I'm looking for, make pieces accessible to a wide variety of customers
  • How to submit work to shows, festivals, and fairs
  • How to photograph products-building a light box, editing images, banners, business cards, logos, etc. 
  • Follow current trends, get inspired by other fellow artists
  • Supplies like banners, business cards, flyers, fiber bags, mailers, scale to weigh, USPS shipping, decide how to wrap it up in a unique way, and offer something extra, like a little token, or a code % off for next purchase

Community Aspects
  • Fiber Artist workshops, gatherings, organizations, fb groups, online communities, real life meetings
  • Workshops in schools, community centers, farmers markets, tabling events, etc.
  • Weaving workshops using recycled items (cardboard and milk jugs) or making a drop spindle from a discarded CD, or doing a woven wallhanging
  • Felted jewelry workshop!
  • Spin-ins in local coffee shops/gathering places
  • Wear felted products as a walking advertisement for my crafts: accessory line
  • Maybe some good ol' yarn bombing at some point
  • Spinning workshops and retreats, festivals

What classes would you include in a Wool School/Fiber School? What's your favorite process on this spectrum of fiber? Feel free to leave fiber-related links to your sites!

10 April 2012

Niddy Noddy, or what not to do

Since I got my Babe spinning wheel, I've spun three yarns that are all still on the bobbins. I realized I needed a niddy noddy, a perpendicular-shaped contraption to wrap the yarn around to make a skein of yarn, if I wanted my bobbins back. I then learned that if I wanted to crochet from this skein, I'd need to use some way to wind it into a ball; otherwise, the yarn would be one hot, tangled mess. I could use someone's hands or something called a swift, which looks like a broken upside down umbrella. I found plans to make a PVC Yarn Swift and Niddy Noddy from The House at Two Palms blog.

A trip to Home Depot resulted in most of the items purchased according to the plans I wrote down in my notebook:
ah, math
I built just the niddy noddy and used Camaj Handspun Yarn's YouTube video for guidance, How to use a niddy noddy and twist a skein of yarn. 

WARNING! Make sure that you really push in those ends to the T-connectors. Three different times an end (not the cap-the six-inch pipe) popped off, and I had to wrassle with it just to slip on my yarn. Then I saw that I had about 4-5 strands that were going the wrong way, so I had to unwind some of the yarn to fix the problems. I was as delicate as possible with the yarn, but it still got unnecessarily fuzzy. I hope I don't lose the pegs again! They're pretty well smooshed and pushed into the t-connectors now!

I had spun a yarn from hand dyed falkland from Charisse at Color Craze Fiber. I call it "Appalachian Sunset" because it reminds me of the gorgeous blazing skies I'd see when I lived in the NC mountains. The only "goal" of this yarn was to spin it in a way it was not overspun and to learn more about how the Babe flows. My wheel and I have to get to know each other! That means this yarn had to get off the bobbin so I can make MORE!

Next step: Steam the yarn