Category Archives: Fiber

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival 2017

A little more than a week has passed since the 2017 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. Instead of taking the train up for the day, I decided to make a weekend out of it. So hubby and I booked and AirBnB (will never do that again!) and headed upstate.

Rosendale, NY
Rosendale, NY

The weather was just glorious! It really gave us the opportunity to check out the area. We spent Saturday visiting some of the lovely open spaces and antique shops. We picked up a paper while enjoying dinner in Rosendale and even the locals were looking forward to  the event! Every individual we met was incredibly nice. We were offered suggestions on where to have lunch, different areas we should ride to, and even the history of the large bridge that was recently built!

Saturday’s exploring was very nice, but let’s face it; we were there for the Festival on Sunday. We were about 20 minutes outside of Rhinebeck. After a nice breakfast we headed over to the Fairgrounds. We knew we were getting close when the traffic started to back up and we saw this billboard!

Rhinebeck Billboard
Getting close!

Now I have been telling the hubby how huge the event is but he was still surprised when we walked into the Fairgrounds. As usual it was packed, but not as busy as Saturday from what I was told by those who attended both days. Everyone was very pleasant – and why not? After all, we are all there to enjoy everything fiber-related!

As always, there were plenty of wonderful little furry creatures to visit. And they certainly know everyone was there to seem them! There were a few young alpacas that were quite friendly and wanted to check out everyone. There was also a beautiful sheep hanging out that was just really interested in sitting comfortably letting everyone take his picture.

Sheep

This year they held a live auction for used equipment like they do at the Maryland Sheep and Wool. Unfortunately, it was only held on Saturday so I missed it. The one time I went to Maryland I checked out the auction and it was great fun. I even won a few items! I hope they do it again next year and maybe offer it on both days.

Obviously there were wonderful items in every building and barn. Of course there were a few items that really caught my eye.  Over the last few years, more and more people are using yarn bowls to try and tame project yarn. Well this year I saw beautiful shaker boxes from Suffolk Shaker Shop

Suffolk Shaker Shop
Knitting box from Suffolk Shaker Shop

that do the same thing. I love Shaker style, so I had to stop and check them out.

Golding Spinning Wheels
Golding Spinning Wheels

A “must stop” booth for me is always Golding Fiber Tools. They create the most ornate spinning wheels and spindles I have ever seen. But they are not just a pretty face. They spin like a dream! I am the proud owner of one of their spindles and I always need to try out the latest wheels they have on display at the Festival. A Golding Spinning Wheel is at the top of my “if I hit the lottery” list – and of course a matching chair must go with it!

One of my last stops of the day was to the Author’s Section to have a quick visit with the great Margaret Hubert. She is not just a talented fiber artist – she’s a good soul. Someone I don’t get to see nearly enough.

Margaret Hubert
Me with the great Margaret Hubert!

She is always more than happy to share her knowledge and offer encouragement to fellow fiber fanatics when they are struggling with a project or specific stitch. She recently published her 31st book – Customize Your Crochet – so I had to pick up a copy and have her autograph it!

Finally we headed out for the day. We didn’t get to see everything, but it was just great. I am already on the wait list at one hotel for next year and will continue to check out other hotels in the area to see if we can book a legitimate room next time.

So what did I buy you might ask? Hubby bought me a few presents! First, a lovely antique box full of thread spools. Second, two antique cameras! Yes, I know. Not exactly fiber gifts, but I have several analog-based hobbies. I’ve always wanted some older cameras so I am now the proud owner of a Kodak Duaflex II and an original Polaroid still in the carry case! So cool!


So, I wait with fiber-filled dreams until next fall.

2016 Crochet Wish List

So I love making wish lists related to my love of fiber arts. Since this is National Crochet Month, I figure this is the perfect time to share my wish list for 2016. This list is focused on just crochet as opposed to my greater love of fiber arts in general.

The Hay Farmer’s Wife: Of course my list will have to include a few crochet hooks. This hook artist is relatively new to Etsy. The Hay Farmer’s Wife makes crochet hooks from branches pruned from her apple orchard. I love the rustic look and that they come from a fourth generation apple orchard.

Celtic Swan: This hook as been on my list for awhile now and some Celtic Swan Forgeday I will break down and purchase one. The Celtic Swan makes hand-forged silver hooks that are simply stunning. Some day I will break down and purchase one.

Batsford Book of Crochet: This is a classic crochet book with a focus on free form. This book can be hard to find and occasionally quite expensive. I just found a copy and ordered it this morning, so while I “technically” own it, I felt like I should still include it on my list.

Hook Holder: So once you have all these wonderful crochet hooks, you need to have something to show them all off. Rparishwoodworks makes beautiful hook holders.

Walnut & Cherry Hook: Of course, I have another crochet hook want. QuinnHandMade offers a beautiful hook that shows off the beauty of natural wood.

Buffalo Wool CompanyBuffalo Wool: One of the most amazing fibers is bison. And the Buffalo Wool Company provides some of the best bison yarn available. I have felt it in person at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival and it truly lives up to expectations!

Qiviut Yarn: Another truly decadent yarn is made from Qiviut. What is qiviut yarn you might ask? It is the undercoat of the muskox and is eight times warmer than wool and finer than cashmere. Extremely rare, Qiviut is hypoallergenic and will not shrink. There are several different brands and I honestly can’t recommend one as my favorite brand has been discontinued. But it is definitely worth the hunt!

I hope this gets your create crochet juices flowing. What is on your crochet must-have list?

Getting Reacquainted with My Majacraft Rose

My Rose in the car - ready to go!
My Rose in the car – ready to go!

A number of years ago, my husband took me to The Spinnery in Frenchtown, New Jersey and bought me a spinning wheel. He told me to do my research and pick the wheel that made the most sense for me. I had narrowed it down to a few and he asked to see them. So I went through photos of each wheel until he saw the Rose. He said “that’s the one.” What made it extra special was that my grandmother’s name was Rose. It was a sign. We headed to The Spinnery and I came home with my new wheel.

I had a great teacher not far from my home. After she moved, and I had a few issues that limited my spinning time, my Rose sat unused.

The Spinnery, Frenchtown, New Jersey
The Spinnery, Frenchtown, New Jersey

A few months ago I signed up for an online fiber arts class called Journey to the Golden Fleece Creativity in Fiber Certificate. It inspired me to get started spinning with my Rose again.

I made some attempts, but after my Rose being neglected for so long, she needed some TLC and I needed a refresher. So I went back to wear it all started – The Spinnery. I brought her to Betty, the owner of The Spinnery, to get back on track. We spent an hour taking care of her.

The Bridge Cafe
The Bridge Cafe

We then moved on to my refresher. She gave me a wonderful compliment and said that my spinning skills were still quite good. We then worked on making slubs, over coiling, and plying – three skills that have eluded me. They certainly need practice, but I understand the process better now.

My finished yarn.
My finished yarn.

Afterward I took a quick walk down the main street of Frenchtown (it was quite rainy and cold) and had lunch at The Bridge Café. Then it was back home.

I finished the yarn I started at my lesson and couldn’t be happier!

I look forward to renewing my love to spinning on my beloved Rose.

My 2014 Fiber Plans

So as the calendar turns, we all look to make resolutions and plans for the upcoming year. Many have the usual plans – get in shape, lose weight, and spend more time with family to name a few. Well, I make a fiber resolution list as well. Here are my plans…

First, I really want to spend more time learning to weave. I started taking a great class on Craftsy, but as usual, other issues got in the way. I hope to spend time learning and improving my weaving skills. If you haven’t checked out Craftsy, it is definitely worth it. And they have plenty of free classes! I would also love to pick up a Zoom Loom and give that a try!

Next, I want to make another pair of socks. I made a pair awhile ago and I am not going to lie, it was tough. But I am determined to give it another try. There are so many great patterns out there, I am truly inspired!

A year or so ago I did an interpretation of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass windows. I would like to do more interpretations of other works of art. I think that will require some visits to some of the great museums in NYC. I know – it will be a tough assignment, but I will take it on.

I want to create more patterns. I have been sketching out some great ideas, but need to put hook to yarn and get them going and sent to publishers for consideration. I plan also to self publish a few! Along similar lines, I really want to write more articles. I felt very lucky to have a few pieces published in the magazine Inside Crochet in 2013. I am hoping for continued success in 2014.

Following along with artistic crochet, I would love to try to do some artistic felting. There is a great book I have been drooling over The Art of Felt: Inspirational Designs, Textures, and Surfaces
for awhile and I would love to give the techniques in the book a try.

I would like to give knitting another try. Years ago (and I mean years) I made a hat and scarf and that was it. I would like to see if I can get a little better at it. Another skill I would like to work on improving is hairpin lace. Jennifer Hansen of Stitch Diva Studios offers great instruction both on her site and Craftsy.

Finally, I want to work on my spinning skills. Just like my weaving, my spinning fell to the wayside in 2013. I really want to get started again. The classes offered by both Craftsy and the Journey to the Golden Fleece can certainly provide some great inspiration!

Well, that’s it. It is an ambitious list, but I hope to achieve all of it. What about you? I would love to hear about your fiber resolutions for 2014!

My Fiber Christmas List

So Christmas is right around the corner and I just realized I haven’t sent Santa my fibery Christmas list! So here we go…

Let’s start out with something I have always wanted to try – Pure Qiviut Yarn. This type of yarn is the ultimate in decadence. It is incredibly soft and depending on the brand, it is available in some absolutely wonderful colors. It also has a hefty price tag. I definitely want to try it out at some point, but it would have to be for a VERY special (and small) project.

Once I have that wonderful yarn, I would need an equally special crochet hook to make my project. So the next item on my list is the Celtic Swan Forge crochet hook. Each hook is a hand-made work of art. John Swan Sheeran works in both silver and gold. I know people that have John’s hooks and they are just wonderful!

This year I started (slowly) to weave using a Cricket Loom. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to use it. There is, however, a new weaving tool I would love to give a try and it is from the maker of my lovely spinning wheel. Majacraft is now making a circular loom and it looks like a lot of fun! And along with that Majacraft loom, I would need to register for the Golden Fleece Fiber Creativity Certificate. The course helps to help boost your creativity and get started with a circular loom. (By the way, stay tuned for an upcoming post about the program!)

I would love to do more needle and wet felting and I really like the idea of doing landscapes in felt.  The book Art in Felt & Stitch: Creating Beautiful Works of Art Using Fleece, Fibres and Threads is a great way to learn about how to get started in felting landscapes.
Continuing along the lines of spinning, I would LOVE to have a pocket wheel someday. I met the designer at the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival a few years ago and it is definitely  on my “want” list!

Finally, I would love to get a Moosie spindle from Journey Wheel. These one-of-a-kind spindles are made from moose antler. They are so popular, there is actually a waiting list to purchase one. I played with one once and it was a dream!

So there’s my list Santa! I am sure as soon as I post this I’ll think “oh wait! I forgot…” I would love to hear what’s on your list!

Black Friday and Small Biz Saturday for Fiber Enthusiasts

Christmas treeSo we all know that the day after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday.” It usually includes people fighting the crowds at some ungodly hour to come home with things like electronics, toys, and appliances.

Well, here is a Black Friday list for the rest of us. The fiber fanatic!

Craftsy: Craftsy Yarn and Fabric sale up to 80% off from 11/27-12/2!

Banana Moon Studio: Enjoy 15% off all patterns on Ravelry from 11/29-12/2.

Too Cute Crochet: Take 25% off all crochet patterns on her Etsy site from midnight ET 11/29/13 through 11pm ET 12/2/13.

The Woolery: Specials from 11/29-12/4 at The Woolery include discounts on jewelry kits, fiber, totes, and more!

Interweave:
Enjoy 50% off savings on a bunch of different items, including patterns, DVDs, magazines – just about everything on the site!

Annie’s:
Use code EYKBRR and get 20% off your entire order. Expires 11/29.

My Etsy Site!
And of course I have to include MY Black Friday coupon code. Use BLACKFRIDAY and get free shipping on anything on my Etsy site until 12/1. No minimum!Small Business Saturday

And on Saturday, make sure to “shop small” and check out your local yarn shops and support them with your business. In 2012, Americans spent $5.5 billion on Small Business Saturday. By shopping local, more of your dollars stay in your community, which helps keep your town vibrant!

As I hear about more sales during this busy Hannakuh and Christmas seasons, I will certainly post them!

Book Review: Mollie Makes Woodland Friends

OK, let me just say that the book I am reviewing here is my favorite in this series of reviews so far!

As many of you know, I love the outdoors. Hiking, fly fishing – it is all great. Mollie Makes Woodland Friends: More Handmade Projects for the Home is a great book that brings the outdoors inside with the right amount of whimsy.


This book offers projects for the knitter, crocheter, and stitcher alike! However, Mollie Makes is far beyond just a book. It is a magazine, website, and book series that celebrates all things crafty. Their projects offer something for every level of ability. Trust me, it is all worth checking out.

Both the narratives and photography in this book are great. The project directions are clear and easy to follow. I have to say the hedgehog pin cushion is absolutely adorable! And the faces on the crochet tissue box cover are just great. Like I said initially – they offer just the right amount of whimsy.

And now, for the usual fun part, you can win this book! Again, the rules are simple:

1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

I’ll pick the lucky winner on November 28th as a Thanksgiving surprise. Good luck! But trust me when I tell you. Even if you don’t win, check it out!

Book Review: The Backyard Sheep

A neighbor and I sometimes joke about how we want to have some farm animals. Since we live in a condo, however, we don’t believe the condo association would exactly appreciate that. So when I received this week’s book, I had to really chuckle, thinking it was a sign that we should give another thought to our idea of building a pen for a few sheep, goats, and rabbits.


The Backyard Sheep: An Introductory Guide to Keeping Productive Pet Sheep is a great book for anyone who might be interested in keeping sheep. Even though I am not someone would can keep sheep, I still found it to be an interesting read from the point of a fiber fanatic. It not only discusses what it takes to raise healthy sheep, it also discussed the history of sheep, differences between breeds, and fleece characteristics.

It also provides information on the obvious important topics if you are considering raising sheep, such as how to select a breed, care and feeding, lambing, and keeping your sheep healthy.

It is written in a conversational tone, which I appreciated, since I usually see books like this written like a textbook. I am sure additional information is required if someone is seriously considering raising small livestock, however, I think it gives a good, and realistic, introduction to all that comes with raising sheep.

Ultimately, while many of us would love the opportunity to keep a few sheep so we have fleece and fiber always on hand, the serious fact is that it takes hard work and knowledge on how to keep these animals happy and healthy. This book definitely does a good job laying a foundation of knowledge to the novice shepherd regarding what to expect on a day-to-day basis. Like I said earlier, even if you aren’t considering raising sheep, it is still an interesting read!

So as usual, here comes the fun part, you can win this book! Again, the rules are simple:
1. Make sure you “like” my Facebook page.
2. Make sure you “like” the book review post on Facebook.
3. I pick a winner!

As an added bonus, the person who won last week’s book never contacted me, so I’ll be picking two winners this week! I’ll pick the lucky winner on October 10th. Good luck!

Etsy Site Updated for Fall

upcycled felt mittensWell, anyone familiar with Etsy knows there is a year-round craft fair taking place online. On Etsy, you can find just about anything you want made by amazing artisans and crafters. I visit it regularly and have made many purchases over the years.

Today I finally updated my Etsy site: Andrea’s Yarn Basket. On my Etsy site you will find fall hats and scarves, as well as crochet wire jewelry, bracelets, and upcycled mittens. I also have hand-spun yarn, felting supplies and de-stashed yarn.

I hope you check it out!

Meeting Other Artisans

Today I participated in a unique craft and lecture event at Saint Clare’s in Denville. While the attendance was light – and on such a beautiful fall day, who wants to be inside – I did have a great time and was able to meet three incredibly talented artisans.

Next to me was Miriam Seiden. She had some of the most lovely jewelry I have seen in quite a while. Her work was of high quality, incredibly creative, and certainly unique. She used a lot of big stones and silver in her work she had available. Each piece made a statement.

Ameenah Designs designs capes, shawls, vests, coats, and hats. Each piece is made by her and has great style and quality. It is easy to see the care and creativity in her work.

My favorite, I think, was Peach Fuzz Fiber Art. She had great bags, fiber bowls, jackets, shawls, and other incredibly creative items. Her free form-style work had just the right touch of whimsy!

Overall, it was a fun day, even though we didn’t have many customers.