Manteca Handcrafter’s Boutique

Come join me on Saturday, March 17th from 10am until 4pm in Manteca for an crafters Boutique!

I haven’t been to this particular one before and was thrilled to be accepted! Over 70 vendors and every single one selling hand crafted items. A Central Valley Fair for local artisans with nothing “mass market”

I hope I have a little time to shop as well!

The vendor proceeds and raffle drawing go to support outreach efforts by First Christian Church of Manteca.

Located at 1125 North Union Road in Manteca

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March – the Month to Create!

With all of the creative arts there is always something new to learn. Every fiber or yarn convention I make sure to sign up for at least one class. Although not all of them have been home runs, I learn something from each one of them (even if it’s not what I intended). I’ve also started taking, and become a huge fan of, online classes! I love these. The cost is minimal (compared to a convention or fiber festival) and I learn some great techniques!

In my email this morning showed up sales for two of the places that I take classes from; Interweave and Craftsy! So far from Interweave I’ve taken, “Table Weaving Made Easy” with, of course, John Mullarkey which was GREAT. I’ve made up four things so far and plan to make up more. The finished products look so complicated and they’re are surprisingly easy. I’ve also taken “Weaving Overshot” Since I was a little worried about weaving overshot, I thought this would be a good class and it is. I’m only part way through, but I have the project on the loom!

I’ve also signed up for double heddle weaving on the rigid heddle, a needle felting course, and different techniques on the rigid heddle.

Today they’re having a sale on classes for $5! I rushed back over there. I had on my list “The Gentle Art of Plying” by Judith MacKenzie (My favorite teacher), and “Spin your Stash” by Jillian Moreno. I’m thinking about “Get More Spun” and “Respect the Spindle” I’ve heard great things about both of those as well.

The link to the classes for $5 is here.

Then…to make a great day even better…Craftsy is having a free weekend on their unlimited classes! OMG! I have a list so long that I’ll spend the weekend watching. Between sewing, some great crochet classes and spinning classes, there’s so much to watch…and it’s free! I’m reviewing the basics with “Foundations of Spinning” “Foundation Crochet” “Sewing Wallets”… and those are just a few of the ones that I tagged to watch until the special ends. Sooo much to learn!

The link to the Craftsy free weekend is here,

I know what I’ll be doing in the airplane tomorrow!

Then posting my finished creations!

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Matchless Spinning Wheel?

I admit it, ever once-in-a-while I get wheel envy. I have (this is the part where I purposefully mumble) five wheels. Okay, perhaps technically it’s a herd. But I need all of img_3973them..okay nevermind no one will believe that argument.

Let’s see, the Kiwi 2; awww…my first wheel. I really do love this wheel. It is amazingly easy to spin on and if I have a tricky fiber, I’ll go to this wheel first because I’m so comfortable with it. I never have to fiddle with it. It just goes and goes. Literally too…it has gone with me to craft fairs to teach kids how to spin, it goes with me to fiber festivals. It is a little buddy that is always predictable.

Then the sidekick. Another great little wheel, and so portable. It’s the one that’s going to PlyAway with me this year and is my new wheel to go to fiber events. It’s gone to a few with me, including up to Meridian Jacobs for a spinning day. I love how portable it is and yet still solid. It’s not quite as ‘sit and go’ as my Kiwi, but is great for a portable wheel.

A8B202F3-4A64-4466-8DBE-7169DCA56648Two antique wheels. Do those count? One a nice classic wheel and the other a sooo cool double wheel. The classic I rarely use, but think I may take it with me for the next craft show just as eye candy and the sooo cool double wheel needs a little restoration. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it is, then actually play with it. I so need more time in my day!

Then the Schacht Flatiron. I do like this wheel. It treadles so smoothly and with the wheel being so big, it can spin fast. Since I prefer long-draw (it’s easier on my hands), I have a tendency to underspin my fiber and the Flatiron goes at a great pace. I have it set up as double drive and keep meaning to try it ST, but haven’t done it yet. As much as I love the Flatiron and know it will spin anything, it is a little finicky. It does need a little more tuning and oil than the Kiwi.

So, now the question of a Matchless. Why? Well, I want to see if they live up to their hype, I’m curious, Will I fall in love like I have with my Kiwi? I really do love the look of them Okay; Why not? I’ve heard they treadle a little harder than the Flatiron. (I don’t have tine to work harder) The wheel ratio isn’t as high as the Flatiron. I suspect they are finicky, and of course the price point is more of a committment. Okay, and there is the storage issue. For someone that is committed to “scaling down” it’s rather hard to then justify six wheel. But…then again…

Oh decisions, decisions, decisions…

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Countdown to Stitches West!

Knitting universe’s Stitches West starts in only a few days in Santa Clara. Although usually I head to a fiber event with a list of specific things to look for, this time I’m rather “winging” it. Usually I tend to spend more time spinning than crocheting, I’ve been on quite the crochet kick lately. So Stitches West happens to be coming at a perfect time.

The following week, I’ll be spending time in an airport, and a week up helping family, so a To-Do list of crochet will fit in well.

Last year at Sitches West I took a great wet felting class with Cecilia Ho. It was a great hands-on class and with a little more practice I’d like to try a few more wet felting projects. I also took a product photography class with Shannon & Jason Mullett-Bowlsby. The information was good, and it was a very interactive and entertaining class.

This year I’m excited to be taking Easy Embellishing by Laura Bryant. As much as I crochet and weave, I’m really looking forward to getting some tips and techniques to add to items. I have a few more purses, coin purses, book covers, and bags that I’m creaing that this technique would really enhance. And that’s just a few items I can think of off the top of my head. I do need to come prepared with a couple of 6″ swatches. I guess I better get to that! I’d like to bring one crochet and one woven to see what the techniques look like on different types of fabric. But again, I better get started.

The second class I’m taking is Edie Eckman’s Understanding Symbol Crochet. I met her a couple of years ago and, I’m embarressed to admit, at that time I really didn’t know who she was during our conversation. Although she was very nice and even signed a book for me…yep, I STILL didn’t grasp who she was. But, since many of the patterns that I use are chart based, I have to admit that I end up referring to the written pattern far too much. I just don’t always trust myself to “see” what the pattern is telling me. I’m running across more and more charts that I want to try, but the directions aren’t in English. So, I need to get much more comfortable with reading the symbols.

There’s some new vendors that I’m looking forward to seeing and some of my regular favorites. Greenwood Fiberworks will be there and I don’t think I’ve ever gone to an event and resisted something from her booth. I picked up some adorable earings from A Needle Runs Through It last year, I’m looking forward to seeing “Buttons” I’m on a button kick lately and honestly, you really can’t have to many buttons. Clemes & Clemes is there. And aside from being some of the nicest people ever, they have the most wonderful products. I LOVE my little Clemes & Clemes drum carder and I always find something from their booth that needs to come home with me. Of course the “big boys” are there; Clover, Craftsy, Knit Picks, etc. I’m secretly hoping that Craftsy has a good deal on a class or two. Between Craftsy and Interweave, there are some fantastic online classes out there! Okay, the vendor list could go on and on. But there’s a full listing here that I plan to print out to make sure I don’t miss something.

February 22-25, 2018…only a few more days!

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Fun with Amigurumi

Moving from winter to spring, the time for winter crochet is transitioning to spring crochet fun. So… Amigurumi time!

There is so much to choose from in the adorable world of crochet Amigurumi. About a year ago I made a little monster for my nephew when he was very into the matching book (I’m sure you probably recognize the “unnamed” monster. Such a well written pattern and free! It was such a fun project. You can find the free pattern here

Then was a little coffee cup, pumpkins, ghosts, and a host of other adorable creatures.

Recently for fun I made up a couple of very cute margarita drinks! Adding white seed beads to the rims for salt. An adorable idea and surprisingly quick to make up! You can find the pattern here. Although it does cost, it’s very reasonable and very well written.

It turned out so cute that I made another one and after someone asking, I’ve since added them to my Etsy shop.

As a spinner and a lover of all things wool, I couldnt resist making a couple of Alpacas and a couple of sheep. Although I had to tweak the sheep pattern a little, they turned out really cute!

The alpaca were just plain fun and the pattern easy to follow. By playing with yarn gist and hook size, I’ve been able to make the finished alpacas a few different sizes. It’s a little addictive. I think they turned out really cute and since I sell out every craft fair that I participate in. I’ve added them to my Etsy shop here. Or, try them yourself. Planet June’s great pattern can be found here.

Ive gone through a few sheep patterns that I really haven’t been happy with. I finally decided on this one. (It’s free) they came out really cute and adding a little bell was a fun idea. I think next time I may add some fabric before the stuffing to give it a more finished look. But they are proving popular and I haven’t had a chance to get back to redesign them. But they are so darn cute, I had to add them to my site.

I’m next in search of a cute rabbit amigurumi. After all, I raise and rescue rabbits at Cottontail Farms, So of course I should create some cute rabbits. But, I cant seem to find a rabbit pattern that I really like. If you find one, let me know. I would love to try one.

The next on my list maybe a car . My sweet nephew is really into cars so that is on my list as well.

In a nutshell. if you haven’t tried amigurumi, you are missing something fun. They are fun, adorable, and certainly great conversation starters. Not to mention that the ideas are endless.

If you do, post a picture, I’d love to see what you came up with!

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Moving from the Louet Victoria to the Schacht Sidekick Spinning Wheel

For me spinning isn’t always an at-home activity; between fiber festivals, workshops, spin-in’s, and demo’s, it’s also a mobile event.

My first try at a mobile wheel was the Louet Victoria. It’s hard to beat her for mobility. She folds up quickly into her little case and unfolds just as fast. Really, it’s lightning quick. But, I never could get into a solid groove with her.

My first issue is just the size of the wheel. Now, at just under 5’2″, I’m not a large person by any means, but sitting comfortably at this little wheel was something that I just couldn’t seem to manage. But an even larger issue for me was the twist and take-up control. I could never quite fine the sweet spot. After taking it to several events, I found myself making excuses to not bring it. That’s about the time I realized that this wheel just wasn’t for me. I didn’t enjoy spinning on her at all. Luckily, the spinning community tends to be a buy/sell group and it found a new home very quickly.

The Schacht SideKick took her place. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the look of the Schacht wheels. I appreciate a more traditional look of a spinning wheel. But, a few months ago, with all of the hype about the Flatiron, I took the plunge and ordered one. I fell in love. Spinning is like butter…but that’s another story. So, being SO impressed with the Flatiron, how could I not try the SideKick?

Breaking it down for transportation isn’t nearly as fast as the Victoria. But I really enjoy the way that it spins. After the Flatiron (and even on my Kiwi wheel) I know that I don’t like to treadle fast. I enjoy a relaxed spinning experience. Fast treadling feels more like a workout than a relaxing experience. And, while the need for a workout might be the case, I certainly don’t WANT a workout if I don’t have to have one. The Sidekick has a 13.7″ drive wheel, which is nice. It comes with two whorls and for me the higher speed whorl is a must for this little wheel. The larger whorl’s ratios of 5.7 & 6.8 :1 could work for plying or thick fluffy yarns perhaps, but the faster 8 & 9:1 were much more comfortable.

While the treadling isn’t as effortless as the Flatiron is in Double Drive, it’s still smooth and easy – much smoother than the Victoria. The take-up is gentle and easy to control.

I really appreciated that it came assembled and ready to go. I was up and spinning in less than ten minutes and it was comfortable from the very beginning.

I was thrilled to find it on Amazon since I trust them and with Prime I was able to get free 2 day shipping. Yea Amazon!

Check out the link Schacht Sidekick SpinningWheel W/flyer

The SideKick’s first outing will probably be either a local Spinzilla event or Lambtown. But I’m already enjoying it as a regular spinner at home… what a great wheel.

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Black Sheep Gathering

Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, Oregon was just a few weeks ago. I have to say, it was worth every penny and every bit of time. Not only was the fiber festival great, the scenery in Western Oregon can’t be beat. 

The drive up wasn’t too bad from the California Bay Area. (the drive home seemed much longer).

Friday morning started with a workshop on spinning silk with Shelia January. Not only was she very knowledgeable, it was a fun class. It was nicely structured with a good balance of time to experiment and try the different silk types, information about the types of silk, and hands on help. A very well done class. I was a little intimidated by silk and wasn’t sure my little Kiwi wheel could go quick enough to make it happen (I’m a slow treadler) But it, and I, did just fine. Of course I picked up a few silk hankies at the marketplace afterwards to play with when I got home. 

Saturday afternoon was more of an art yarn spinning class from Laurie Weinsoft. It was a much less structured class. I wish there had been more structure, help, and demonstration. It was certainly a free-form time for experimentation. And, as much as I wished it had been more informative, I’ve have used the techniques since I’ve been home. 

Sunday morning was Judith MacKenzie’s spinning Shetland. I was excited not only because Shetland is one of the breeds that I’m considering keeping, but because…well…because it’s Judith MacKenzie. In actuality I was expecting to be a little disappointed. After all, who could possibly live up to all of that hype. As it turns out Judith MacKenzie can, that’s who. Being an introvert there are few people, that I don’t know well personally, that I would want to spend a lot of time with. She is definitely an exception. The amount of knowledge she has on sheep, spinning, history, etc. is mind-blowing. Watching her spin fine yarn was stunning. And the techniques that she showed, just as afterthoughts from spinning, to hand carding, to skirting was the type of information that you spend years trying to find. Her class was well organized with hands-on, instruction, and her insights alone were worth the drive. I have no doubt that I’ll sign up for any class that she offers. 

Sunday afternoon was Sarah Anderson’s success in Plying. Admittedly, it was hard for any class to both follow Judith’s class, and be at the tail end of a long three day weekend. But I was looking forward to taking a class from her. Sarah was definitely knowledgeable, talented, and had a wonderful way of explaining the energy in yarn. We had lots of hands-on and she certainly seemed like one of the nicest people that you could meet. Honestly, I don’t know if my plying is any better. But her instruction was really very good. I would love to take another class from her. I have no doubt that a technique class on something along the lines of core spinning or boucle would be fantastic from her! 

The marketplace was addictive…perhaps too addictive. I had headed up with a list of things to buy, and of course picked up a few extras. I was happy to find some Santa Cruz sheep fiber. I’ve been wanting to try this since Wendy from Shaggy Bear mentioned that she would have some. 

I not only picked more fiber than I really needed, but broke down and bought a spindle. And although I have resisted the drop spindle, I have to admit, I’m having a lot of fun with it. 

My marketplace highlight was picking up my Clemes and Clemes mini drum carder. I absolutely love it! Sweet and funny Gynna helped me play with it while the guys were busy teaching a class and I was thrilled to leave Black Sheep with it. The first thing I carded when I got home was a mix of my German Angora and Merino. It did a fantastic job with it. I’m having a great time spinning it up during Tour de’ Fleece. The carder is the perfect size to fit in my fiber studio/rabbitry. 

My unexpected surprise was being able to show one of Robin’s Meridian Jacobs sheep! I was pretty nervous, convinced that she (the sheep, not Robin. 😉 ) was going to get away from me in the ring. But Robin did a great job of showing us how to handle them in the ring and my cooperative sheep did a lovely job of showing herself and even won first place. Honestly, I still have no idea what I was doing…but I certainly had a GREAT time doing it! Meridian Jacobs took first in a couple of divisions. I’m really not surprised though. Robin really is a remarkable shepardess and her sheep and their fleeces reflect it. I certainly have a ton of respect for both her kindness and abilities….and her sweet sheep!

The last surprise was the wonderful people. I was shocked at how many Bay Area people were there. It seems like half of the Treadles to Threads spinning guild was there. I ran into a fellow student from our Wool Classing School, a few people from farm club, and made a few new friends. It really was a nice reminder of what a great group of people the fiber world is made up of. 

 I’m already looking forward to next year’s Black Sheep Gathering!

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Spinning at the Winery

What is more fun than getting together and spinning fiber into yarn…getting together and spinning fiber into yarn at a winery of course!

If you are anywhere near Livermore, you’ll definitely want to stop by Retzlaff Vineyards on Saturday, June 3rd from 10am until 4pm when the Treadles to Threads Spinners Guild holds their 20th annual “Spinning at the Winery.” A day of spinning and wine tasting is a great combination!

If you’re a spinner, bring your wheel and a potluck dish you’d like to share. There’s a great raffle and enjoy the entire day for only $5 per person. 

A great way to free up room in the fiber studio in preparation for Black Sheep gathering! “Shoot, I’m almost out of fiber, I have no choice but to buy more” (Okay, it’s a stretch…but I’m going with it!)

Fleeces, Fiber, Yarn, Wine & More!

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Certified Wool Classer! 

With the number of fleeces that I look at during fiber festivals and more, and my limited experience in skirting at Meridianjacobs farm, I decided I REALLY wanted to understand what I’m looking at and looking for. Then of course there’s the research in which type of sheep I want to raise in the next few years. What better than the American Sheep Industry Association to learn about wool. And if I’m going to do that, I might as well jump in all the way. 

There aren’t that many schools, but luckily there’s one about three hours from my house through UC Davis. The classes fill up fast, I mean …within hours. 

It was a FULL three days. Information ranged from the cellular structure of wool fibers, estimating the value of a fleece on the commercial market, recognizing the qualities in a particular fleece (as well as the entire clip), to breeding strategies in a flock. An amazing amount of information. Of course we spent a good amount of time in the barn. And, while shearing students learned their skill, we dug deep into skirting and sorting fleece after fleece, after fleece. I think we all loved every moment of it!

On top of it all I got to meet some great people; from the stunningly knowledgeable instructors to the other students that included other fiber enthusiasts & artists as well as the enviable small sheep & alpaca farmers. 

I’m missing sheep already and even more excited about Black Sheep Festival and the fleeces. And of course all of the sheep breeds! 

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Dublin Craft Fair

The Dublin craft fair was this weekend and what fun! It was geared towards kids and they had a wonderful time learning to spin…although some of the younger ones just had fun making the spinning wheel go around.

I managed to get quite a few samples of different types of fiber displayed and there was a lot of interest at feeling all of the different fibers that can be made into yarn. I think the most popular were the yak, angora and bamboo. Even the adults enjoyed touching all of the different fibers.

I did learn that selling at a busy fair and a spinning demo/teaching doesn’t play well together. If it wasn’t for help in the booth there is no way I could have managed both. Many times there was a line of kids that wanted to try spinning. This left very little time to help customers and answer questions. But I can’t help but feel it’s worth it. Its wonderful to see people (kids and adults) connect the dots from wool to a spun yarn. Being in the fiber world so much I tend to forget that not everyone understands the process.

It was an exhausting…but fun processes. Now to get everything posted on Etsy and figure out the next show.

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