Monday, December 08, 2008

Hats and Scarves

I decided to get some fancy display heads for my hats to dress things up a bit for the holiday fairs. When they arrived I realized they were a lot bigger than the ones I usually use, and they needed scarves to go with the hats. So I made some to match a few of the nicest hats. Here are three hat and scarf combos I came up with.

The white and light rosy puce colored hat has silver beads in it that are a little hard to see, but if you click on the images they enlarge to full size, which helps a lot. The hat that goes with it is a blend of wool and white mohair and matches some of the yarn used in the hat.

The black one has quite a bit of sparkly in it, which is also hard to see because for some reason computer images can't register sparkles very well. This one is made from wool with novelty eyelash added. The scarf is a little wider and longer than the other two. All the scarves are knitted.

The yarn for the top of the black and gray pill box hat has bits of different colors of commercial yarn plied in with black cord. I used that same yarn for the scarf. This hat is crocheted. After I'd finished the scarf, I realized that it would also go well with the red and gray hat in the following post because it has some of this same yarn in it. Juaquetta Holcomb gave me the idea for this yarn, and some of it is hers.

I've now made a Hats and Scarves page for my website. All of these plus one more are on it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Two New Hat Styles

I've been busy preparing for the upcoming holiday craft fairs. This year I'm doing one in Ukiah, California, and my daughter, Alexis, is going to help out and contribute some of her own creations to the display. She's very excited and is working like crazy to get some hats made. Her's look similar to the one posted here in April. This fair is a benefit for the local Waldorf School, so I feel very good about participating. Too many craft events these days are run by greedy people wanting to make money off of crafters who are already making less than minimum wage. There are lots of creative people in the Ukiah area, so it should be a fun event worth checking out if you're anywhere nearby. I'm posting a separate entry with details about time and place, etc. for those of you who might want to come, along with dates for the annual Telegraph Ave. Holiday Fair in Berkeley, which is not going to a good cause, and may or may not be worth a visit.

I have a couple of new styles that I'll be showing. One of them is on my website, but I'm keeping the other for the fairs. If the one on the website gets sold before the fairs, I'll make another that's similar. If they both get sold in Ukiah, so be it. By that time, I may not have time to make replacements.

This is the one that's 'already out' - It has a very nice beaded tassel, and the top part is extra sturdy, being made from two ply wool and llama wool, so it holds it's shape perfectly.

The one that I'm saving is a bit fancier with fluffy dyed Samoyed hair, pink poofies and a feisty tassel on top. They're both my own original designs, as are all my hats, which brings me to something I'd like to state here for the record. I would prefer that admirers of my hats refrain from expressing their appreciation by trying to copy them. I've seen various such attempts online done up in store bought yarns, and I have to say they don't look especially nice. My hats tend to maintain their own inherent copy write protection in that they can only be made with my yarns combined with my particular sense of design and color - plus I never use patterns. It's all a product of my own completely individual brand of creativity, and a little respect would be nice.

A woman once asked me how I get the ideas for these hats. When I told her they come out of my brain, she just stared at me blankly and said "No, I want to know how you learned to do this." When I told her I'd been to art school, that seemed to settle the matter. For her there had to be a prescribed method for doing everything, so anything could thereby be learned. Well, it can't. Some things just sprout out of nowhere. If it's especially great, it's called inspiration. Obviously my hats aren't particularly inspirational, but for sure there is no way and nobody - not even me - who can teach a course in how to make them. So there is also no way to reproduce them.

You can however go to art school and take courses in Fiber Art - something that wasn't available when I was in school. Then you can go out and create all kinds of wonderful designs of your own. It takes a little more effort, but let's face it - plagiarism is just plain tacky, and creating something new and original is a whole lot more fun and rewarding.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Holiday Fair Schedule

The 36th Annual

Children's Holiday Faire

Presented by

The Waldorf School
of Mendocino County

Saturday, December 6, 2008
11 AM to 5 PM

Carl Purdy Hall, Ukiah Fairgrounds

Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair

Berkeley, California

Saturday and Sunday
December 13th and 14th
11AM to 5 PM

I'll be on the west side of the street between Haste and Channing

Saturday, December 20th
11 AM to 5 PM

West side between Haste and Channing

Sunday, December 21st
11 AM to 5 PM

Northwest corner of Channing and Telegraph on the sidewalk, not in the street

Since this is an outdoor street fair, I won't be able to be there if it's either raining or extremely windy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another scarf

I just finished another scarf today. This one is only 6 1/2 ft long and about 5 1/2 inches wide and was a custom order. It's made from malamute hair blended with a small amount of wool. I spun it somewhat lumpy and then crocheted it. Husky hair tends to be fragile and holds up much better when blended with another fiber. The hair was a mixture of white, gray/brown, and light gray. Carding it together with some off white Corriedale wool made it come out mostly light gray with bits of white and darker gray/brown.

It's incredibly soft, thick and warm and looks great wrapped around the neck with both ends hanging down in front. I hope I'll get a photo of its new owner wearing it.

For those who don't like the idea of using pet hair to make a scarf, please understand that that I always soak the finished yarn in baking soda in order to eliminate any odor.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The eleven foot scarf

One of my favorite customers had been wanting a very long scarf for a very long time, so I finally decided to make him one. He wanted it woven and in earth tones, and I promised it would be about nine feet long at least.

This took some doing, as I had to find a spot where there was enough space to warp my little heddle loom to that length. I decided to do it in my cabin, since there isn't all that much space in the room I rent in Berkeley. So I paced off about 12 of my size 9 feet and figured that would do it including the fringe.

I spun the warp yarn a thin two ply for extra strength, as I've had problems with my handspun fraying as it went through the reed. That took about six hours at least, as 12 feet of 2 ply warping for a 4 inch wide scarf is one heck of a lot of yarn. Once I got it on the loom, it went well though. No fraying at all.

I made the warp in undyed natural brown Romney wool, then dyed some thicker Corriedale for the contrasting weft colors in subtle greens and browns. About a week later, I took it off the loom and found it was about 11 feet long!

I called my customer and told him that it wrapped around my neck and hung down to my feet. He was completely thrilled to hear that, and very glad it wasn't just some kind of skimpy nine footer. He loved how it came out and has promised to send me a photo of himself (and maybe his girlfriend, too) wrapped up in this scarf. Definitely the longest scarf I've ever made!

Finally found some raw flax

Now that summer is over, I've finally found some raw flax to make an old fashioned straw hat. What with the wild fires and various other distractions, I got a bit behind in my work.

I've been trying to find spinable flax off and on all summer. All my suppliers were out. I am also out of the raw hemp that I like use to make my straw hats. I had given up on ever making another straw hat when a new member of my spinner's yahoo group showed up selling flax that he grows and processes himself. I immediately ordered some of his less processed fiber, thinking that it might replace the hemp. He also sells roving that's been prepared for spinning, and I'll probably get some of that at some point, too.

The flax is not quite as rough as the hemp was, but it's a good substitute. So I went ahead and made a straw hat even though it's now fall and put it up on my website. Heck, maybe somebody in Australia will want it! It just looked too nice to put away until spring.

Here's a photo of it outside my cabin in Mendocino County.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Greenfield Ranch Fire Brigade

Here are a couple of photos of some of the folks who turned out to fight the fires in our area of Mendocino County, California, when the local firefighters were too overwhelmed with the number of fires started in the county by dry lightning last week. We've always been a do it yourself community, and that includes fighting our own wildfires. Cal Fire is now on the job, and some of the fires are coming under partial control. It's still very smoky, though, and I've got a bad headache from breathing it. It seeps in through the cracks in the walls and floor of my cabin, so it's even smoky inside.

I went up to my homestead on Friday to stand watch because of a weather report that predicted more dry lightning. Fortunately that didn't happen, but I did have to prepare for a mandatory evacuation. Then, once the mandatory was lifted, there were all kinds of other jobs to do, like trying to make sure my water system would have enough pressure if needed. This was hampered by a wood rat who has been hanging around my cabin stashing acorns and old nectarine pits. Seems he found an opening in the top of my water tank and has been dropping the acorns in there. When I turned on the tank nothing came out because it was all plugged up with acorns. Took me about a half hour to clear them all out. My house would have burned down by that time if I'd needed the water to put out a fire!

Maybe now that things have calmed down a bit, some hats may happen this week!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No hats today

My home in Mendocino County is threatened by wildfires, and I've been busy cutting weeds and preparing to evacuate for the past few days. The fires were started by dry lightning strikes all over northern California last Friday night. We are safe for now, but things can change in a minute when winds shift.

From Saturday till late Monday our neighbors who are at 'ground zero' and able to see flames from their kitchen window had no help fighting the fires other than our local community fire brigade. The CDF is currently understaffed, and the resources they have were stretched too thin to respond to all of the over 100 fires started by the lightning strikes. They are also extremely restricted in using their "fire bombers" that spray fire retardant to stop fires. This has always been the most effective way to protect homes and stop the fires. They are now using only fire breaks cut by bulldozers around threatened structures and are just letting the fires burn.

We are now officially classified as a "disaster area" so help is being sent in from other states, and I'm hoping our homes will be saved. The National Guard has been called in also. Unfortunately most of the National Guard is in Iraq, however, along with many of the men and women who might otherwise be available to be working with Cal Fire.

People who are very close to the two fires have described seeing "a 50' wall of flame coming over the ridge." Ash from the fires is now blowing onto houses that are several miles away.

This is an unprecedented event. The last time we saw fires started by dry lightning was over 20 years ago, when 70 fires flared up overnight all over the county. This is twice as big and with drastically cut resources to fight it.

I've posted some photos. They don't really show the extent of what's going on, but it's all I have right now. The cloud looking stuff is smoke plumes. The valleys are so filled with smoke that they are advising people to stay indoors. I had to bring my son back to the Bay Area because he has asthma, but I will be going back to prepare for evacuation.

So, not much hat making going on right now!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Allie's first hat

My daughter, Alexis, learned to spin about a year ago, but hasn't wanted to learn to make anything with the yarn until recently. I got her a pegged knitter, which seemed like an easy way to get started. She's now graduated to round knitting needles, but her first hat was made entirely on the pegged knitter, with a little help from me with the funky not quite pompom bit on top. I think it turned out very well. She's going to give it to a friend as a graduation present.

She went on to make another two and is working on a third. She used the pegged knitter to get the second one started then transferred the stitches to a round knitting needle. That one went to her husband Marshall, who grabbed it in a hurry! I don't have a photo of hat number three yet, but am encouraging her to start selling these hats on my website. I think they look fantastic!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Been making scarves

I've been recovering from a bad back brought on by the December rush. I always work too hard, then have to spend the next three months recovering!

Now I'm getting ready to head up to the hills to spend most of the spring and summer at my funky little cabin, which badly needs a good cleaning. I'll be spinning more extra lumpy art yarn with my daughter, who will be spending the month of April with me. She loves to spin and dye the fiber but still hasn't learned to knit, crochet or weave, so I guess we make a good team. I've promised to show her how to make art yarn, and she's going to have another go at the small "knitter's loom" that I bought awhile back. Hopefully we won't freeze to death. It stays really cold up there until some time in May or June.

Meanwhile, I've been making scarves. The knitter's loom takes forever, so I tried making a lumpy knitted one with a few beads added. It's about five and a half feet long and about five or six inches wide (that varies because of the lumpiness). It's made out of wool, mohair and silk. Some of the yarns have been plied with various types of thin cord. Not sure if I want to make them to sell, but am considering it. I've had a lot of requests.