Category Archives: Weaving

Yarn Spinning at Jockey Hollow

Regular readers of my various blogs know I am a proud New Jerseyan.  I even have a blog about how much I love New Jersey. Well, yesterday I had a great opportunity to head to Jockey Hollow in Morristown for a yarn spinning demonstration at the Wick House.

For those of you who are not familiar, Morristown played a key role

Spinning at the Wick House
Our revolutionary spinner educating us about the role of spinning during the war.

in America’s fight for independence. There are multiple sites within Morristown that are part of the National Park Service. Known as “Where America Survived,” Morristown National Historical Park commemorates the sites of General Washington and the Continental army’s winter encampment of December 1779 to June 1780, where they survived through what would be the coldest winter on record.

When you head into Jockey Hollow, you quickly leave modern day behind. You see the expansive acreage that made Henry Wick the largest land owner in Morristown. The trees on Wick’s property attracted Washington’s army to the area as a winter encampment site because they needed logs to build cabins for shelter and wood to burn for heating and cooking.

After a short walk to the Wick House, I found a wonderful spinner happily explaining the importance of spinning during the American Revolution and dispelling a number of the myths associated with Revolutionary living.

My first surprise is that prior to the American Revolution, a number of products were still imported from England; including fabric. The restrictions on sheep raising and wool manufacturing, along with other limitations, such as the Stamp Act and other taxes, contributed to the Revolutionary War.

The colonists fought back in their own protest and boycotted the use of fabrics from England and went back to spinning yarn to make fabric. Women would meet as a group, spin together, discuss the happenings of the day, mostly politics, and became known as the Daughters of Liberty. As a result, spinning and weaving were considered patriotic acts. It eventually became popular to wear hand-spun and woven clothing from America. You may even consider this the first “made in America” movement!

I also learned that when the men went off to war, some of the women followed and assisted the soldiers as they moved from battle to battle with duties such as nursing, darning socks, laundry, and yes, spinning yarn for later weaving into fabric.

I certainly learned a lot during this very informative demonstration. I also enjoyed spending some time at Jockey Hollow again as it has been quite a while since my last visit.

If you are in the area and want to learn more about Morristown’s role in the American Revolution, I hope you check out all the great historical locations throughout the area; and maybe learn how to make yarn while you are there!

In July, another fiber-related even is taking place at the Wick House – Clothing an Army – which will discuss the role of weaving played during the Revolutionary War and why the colonies needed France to contribute to their uniform needs. I hope to check it out!

My 2016 Fiber Arts Christmas List

So it is that time of year again. I’m going to tell Santa I have been a very good girl this year, so I have a a few special fiber toys on my list.

Celtic Swan ForgeThis one has been on my wish list for quite awhile and some day I am going to break down and purchase it. The silver crochet hooks from Celtic Swan Forge are true works of art. Each hook is hand forged made of silver. It is then hammered while hot and twisted to create beautiful designs. Celtic Swan also makes lovely knitting needles, and even drop spindles! Like I said, someday I will make this special purchase.

I have been trying to find time to do more weaving. I especially love some of the “on the go” weaving tools that have become popular as of late. I recently came across Hokett Tapestry Hand Loom Kit on The Woolery’s website. I also love the “Minnow” Small Hand Held Loom Padauk Caddyfrom Eden Bullrushes Inc. from Eden, NY. These tools are just so lovely and I’m sure they are fun to use!

I have also wanted a hook holder for awhile and I think I found something I really love. The Padauk Caddy by
Hornshaw Wood Works from Holland, Michigan. I absolutely love the deep wood!

Spinning The Yarn by Antonio BorsatoIf price was no object, I would have to go for this beautiful “Spinning The Yarn” by Antonio Borsato. It lists online for about $1,000, so I don’t see this turning up in my curio cabinet anytime soon. But how beautiful is this piece!?

 

Something I am currently bidding on is the Snowbabies figurine “Sheep, Wool, Yarn.” There are several yarn-inspired figurines from Snowbabies and hopefully over time I can collect them.Snowbabies Sheep Wool Yarn

So like I said Santa, I’ve been very good this year so if you want to send some fiber toys my way I would be very appreciative!

What is on your wish list this year?

My 2015 Fiber Resolution List

At the beginning of each year, many promise to lose weight, get in shape, save more money, or other typical resolutions. Well, I make a fiber-related resolution list. Here’s mine for 2015.

Socks: I made a pair of socks awhile ago and it went, well – okay. I would like to give it another try.
Spin: I haven’t had much time to spin the last few years and I really miss it. I definitely want to give my Rose more use.
Fibery Goodness: At the end of last year, I started a class called The Journey of the Golden Fleece. It is all about spinning and challenging your creativity. I wasn’t 100% happy with my work for the first module. I am half-way through the second module and am giving it much more attention. I feel like I am making good progress. I want to continue my momentum and get the most I can out of the class!
Knitting: I am primarily a crocheter. I do other fiber crafts, but I have always struggled with knitting. I would really like to improve my knitting skills so that I can confidently do at least basic projects.
Felting: Along with doing more knitting, I would like to do more felting – both needle and wet.
Weaving: I bought a loom awhile ago and the first attempt at weaving is still on it. I want to rip it all out and start all over again.
Learn to sketch: This may sound like a funny one. What does sketching have to do with the fiber arts? Well, if you design patterns, it has a lot to do with it. When submitting patterns ideas, many publishers, yarn companies, and the like, prefer to have a sketch of the pattern idea. While I have always want to improve my artistic skills, I have never been able to do so. This year I really want to make that a focus.
Continue to learn: What might be most important is that I want to continue to learn and broaden my horizons. I love all the different fiber arts and look forward to learning as much as I can!

So that’s my list! It may sound like an aggressive list, but I am hopeful I can accomplish it!

What are your fiber resolutions? Share them here or on my Facebook page.

Magazine Review: DIY Holiday 2014

DIY holiday
DIY Holiday 2014: The Crafting Life Interweave/F+W; $9.99

This time I don’t have a book review, but a magazine review. When I first saw the announcement for DIY Holiday 2014, I just knew it was going to be great!

There’s a wide variety of different projects for every level crafter. Whether you like crochet, spinning, mixed media, or jewelry, there’s something there for you. The best part is that all the projects keep budget in mind.

I absolutely love the crochet lights garland and the Christmas trees. Another nice surprise was the directions to make a CD spindle for yarn spinning. When I talk to individuals about getting started in spinning, I recommend making a spindle using CDs and a dowel. It avoids the need to make a purchase when you aren’t sure you if you will like it. The directions in this issue are straightforward to follow and get started spinning!

Holiday Flower Lights
Holiday Flower Lights

A while back I picked up a Zoom Loom. I haven’t had much of a chance to use it up to this point. DIY Holiday includes a project idea for it so I really have no excuse!

I’ve always wanted to give jewelry making a try and the Olympic coin necklace looks like a lot of fun.

The directions for all the different projects are easy to follow and nicely presented in the magazine. There are nice close-up shots of the different projects so you can see necessary details. I highly recommend it.

Best of all, F&W sent me three copies to give away to my readers! As an added bonus, I never heard back from one of the Christmas Crochet book giveaway winners, so I have four items to give away this week!

As usual, the rules to enter are simple:

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

I’ll pull the winners on Friday, November 28th. Good luck!

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!

Assembling the Cricket Loom

About a month ago, I purchased a Cricket Loom by Schacht. Now that the year is coming to a close and all Cricket Loomthe gifts for Christmas have been made, it is time to give my new toy a try.

The first thing I needed to do was assemble it. Now anyone who knows me knows I am far from a fan when it comes to assembling, well…anything. The Cricket comes with a detailed directions, but I found the images to be a little too close up to really understand what needed to be done. So I went online and found a great step-by-step assembly video from WEBS. It was exactly what I needed!

Only took me about 20 minutes to assemble the entire loom. It comes with project instructions and two skeins of yarn so you can start right aAssembled Cricket Loomway. What I am going to next is take the online class from Craftsy that covers rigid heddle weaving. The class is taught by weaver Angela Tong. So far I just watched the “intro” section, which is very conversation and relaxed. I have also downloaded project sheets to help with project planning.

So I look forward to going through all the videos and sheets and giving weaving a try! Stay tuned for my first weaving adventure.

Getting Started with Ridig Heddle Weaving

So I have been wanting to try ridig heddle weaving for quite some time now. While at Rhinebeck last month, I had the opportunity to see the Schacht Cricket Loom in person and decided that was the item for me. I saw it on sale at The Woolery so I decided to make the purchase!

To help me get started, I am going to take the Rigid Heddle Weaving class on Craftsy. This is a completely new venture for me, so I will need all the help I can get!

I am working up a few orders this weekend, but hope to dive in tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool 2012

There are very few words someone can say to a group of individuals that immediately stir emotions. For fiber fanatics, one of those words is Rhinebeck.

The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival held at the Dutchess County fairgrounds, better known as “Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool,” was last weekend. For the last several years, I go to the show by way of a wonderful bus trip run by Jill Deal Yarn in Milford, PA, however, this year I had a very important event on Sunday that kept me from participating – my niece’s Confirmation. I thought I would have to miss this year’s event completely, but thanks to my wonderful husband, I was able to go on Saturday by hopping a ride on the Amtrack. It was quite the adventure!

I hopped the NJ Transit train in Dover, NJ into New York City. Then it was the Amtrak to Rhinecliff, NY, and finally a short taxi ride to the fairgrounds. A total of four hours door-to-door. I made arrangements to meet the taxi a few hours later and off I went!

At first, I was a bit frantic. I only had four hours to get to everything. My usual plan when going to Rhinebeck is to make one or two rounds and make mental notes of what I plan to purchase and then on the last round, pick everything up. Well, this year I had to purchase when I saw it. I still made mental notes for items that I would not be able to purchase at the event, but hope to plan to at some point in the future.

The purchase I made was was one of my favorite vendors – Golding Fiber Tools. I picked up a set of Knitters Pride Dreamz crochet hooks. They were quite reasonable, VERY light, comfortable, and just lovely! I own a Golding spindle and I can say with great confidence, their work is some of the best out there and they offer their tools at a wide variety of price points so you can find something to fit your budget. Purchasing a spindle is a great and inexpensive way to get started in spinning and there is nothing like spinning on a quality spindle.

I found a great spinning seat that I plan on buying in the future. They were all hand-turned and cost between $120 and $150, depending on the type of wood used. The best part is that he does ship! As I was on the train, it didn’t make much sense to try to bring this home so I plan on picking one up.

I also had a chance to try out a spinning wheel called “Hopper” from Spinolution. This is a portable-style wheel and it spins like a dream! The woman at the booth let me spin for a long as I wanted and answered all my questions. The wheel retails for a little more than $800. Definitely a well made wheel!

I had a chance to say a quick hello to Susan from Susan’s Fiber Shop. This is the only time of year I get to see her and I always make sure to say hello. Her booth was full of fibery goodness as always! For those of you who don’t know Susan, she is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.

As always, there were many different finished pieces available for sale from a wide variety of different artisans. One vendor had these beautifully made hand-felted scarves. Felting is something I keep saying I want to learn more about, but that never seems to happen. It is definitely on my list.

I also checked out the Schacht Cricket Loom. There is now a 10 inch model available, which is just the right size for condo living. That will be on my list to Santa this year for sure!

The leaves were in all their glory and the weather was just perfect! There was only a slight chill in the air, making it perfect for some leaf peeping and hot cider. The colors on the trees were just lovely.

In what seemed like no time, I had to meet the taxi to head back to the train station to catch the Amtrack back to NYC and then the NJ Transit train back to Dover.

Overall it was a great day and it always goes by too quickly. The train was a nice ride – although a long one. I hope to take Jill’s bus trip next year. Once I was back on the the train in New Jersey, I was able to snap a shot of the Freedom Tower being built in lower Manhattan. It was certainly a beautiful sight!

Craft in America: The “Threads” Epsiode

Watch Threads Episode Preview on PBS. See more from Craft in America.

Friday night I had the chance to catch the latest episode of Craft in America on PBS and was very excited to see the episode was entitled “Threads.”

For those of you not familiar with Craft in America, this has been on for a few seasons now and showcases different artists, their influences, what drew them to their medium, and so on. It is a very interesting show!

The “Threads” episode highlighted four different artists and focused on weaving and storytelling through quilts. The four artists all come from different backgrounds and points of inspiration in their lives. Each artist uses their life experiences and view of the world to create amazing fiber art. The work highlighted in this episode was just amazing!

I especially enjoyed leaning about the works of Terese Agnew and Consuelo Jimenez Underwood. Among many different inspirations, Terese has a special focus on the outdoors, which I of course just loved and Consuelo used a variety of different media, such wire, in her work, which I love to do as well!

I hope you consider checking out the episode as well as the series. It is a great offering on PBS and you will certainly not be disappointed!