Monday, December 27, 2010

Post-Christmas Slump OR Regathering My Thoughts...


Two books recommended on Etsy for marketing and,
I think, part of The Plan.

We have entered the post-Christmas slump, which is that delicious, drifting time of staying up late, sleeping in late, lazy breakfast and reading books.  Thank God for it because December always burns me out.  I have marketing books to read and lovely books of fiction to take my mind off the dreariness of winter.  I need it to recharge my batteries and focus on The Plan for 2011.  And in order to get to The Plan, I need to eat, sleep, and read and hibernate a bit to regather my creative energy.  I see on Facebook that friends were felting on Christmas Eve--how do they keep going???  I am always knackered by Christmas Eve and can just about manage making dinner before reaching for a medicinal glass (or three) or wine....

For now, I need to get my workspace reorganized and put back together.  I had to move most of my studio home because of the sub-zero weather and lack of heat and light in my studio, but my house is up in a HEAP that is driving me mad and it all has to go back before I flip out.  Usually, even in the worst mess I know where to locate things I need, but it has all gotten away from my like a large ball rolling down hill, getting larger and more dangers and faster as it hurtles towards disaster.  At least we are thawing and temperatures are up to normal. All that hunkering down by the fire and trying to stay warm was for the birds--I was only warm in bed and my son was always at me to get up and feed him.  No peace!

I suppose it's a natural time for focusing on plans for the New Year, although I do not do resolutions as such.  Goals to work towards...I need to get marketing and sales up for Etsy and get myself on Twitter.  I think I need to rethink Lámhdhéanta as it is not working--do I keep pushing to try and get the concept up and running or do I give it up???  I am personally thinking the concept will work, but the implementation needs tweaking.  And by that last comment I mean that I haven't a feckin clue how I am going to re-attack it.  It will come to me in a dream, most likely. 

As a goal for last year, I wanted to try and get nominated for the Irish Blog Awards, but I can't seem to find criteria for nomination.  I know the IBA ( are in March 2011, but that seems to be the only info I can find.  Anyone else know anything???

Does anyone else have any good goals/resolutions/common sense for the coming year????
All I want to do is stare at the tree like a cat...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Nollaig Shona!!

Which is more exciting: Santa or snow????
I have been missing in action, but I blame head colds and the unreal amount of work that needs to get done in order to get Christmas off the ground!  However, we are almost 8pm on Christmas Eve and just heading to a friend's house for some Christmas cheer and I wanted to wish everyone a wonderful, happy, and healthy Christmas!!! 

I will write a big, fat post after Christmas to catch up, but know now that we are entering the time of miracles and magic and I just can't work anymore!!!  God bless everyone!!! xx Sharon

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December Panic in Dingle!!

Crocheted and felted lacy scarf: Merino, Mohair.
I have been procrastinating in my blog writing, but that's because we have been struggling with the cold weather and I have had to move almost everything home because there is no heat in my studio.  I put in two hours work there and was frozen.  Even my heating system at home isn't keeping my house terribly warm and the kitchen is too cold to be in by night.  I know it sounds boring to go on about the weather (though it is an Irish national pastime), BUT it seems to be having a big impact these days.  I am just relieved that we aren't having as much snow in Dingle as it is treacherous with the snow and ice.  And I feel truly sorry for my English friends as it is much worse there. 

I am in the middle of a mad week of projects.  I have cuffs to embellish and finish, a festive top to felt, a quilt to assemble and finish, fours hats to embellish, and felting more scarves.  This doesn't include getting ready for the craft fair on Sunday, felting with Fionn's class, and cleaning and decorating the house.  All go!! 

The craft fair at Benner's Hotel in Dingle should be wonderful.  The Dingle Chamber of Commerce and MFG are organizing a shopping day in Dingle, so come out if you have time (and the roads are very good our way) as there will be caroling, discounts in shops, and at 430pm there will be a Lantern Parade with all the school children in West Kerry.  They are having  a competition for the schools on who can make the best lanterns out of recycled materials.  Go Scoil Iognáid Rís!!! It should be a wonderful afternoon and no better weather for warm woollies!!

Now, back to the sewing machine and the cold kitchen!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cold Dingle Morning

We woke up this morning to a dusting of snow around Dingle and a considerable amount more in the mountains.  Winter is here!  And is there any better time for wool???  It's about 20 f/-4c today with the wind, so hopefully people will pick up some lovely warm gifts for Christmas.  Handmade and not made in China.

I felted two scarves yesterday.  What I call Ladder Scarves as they look like a ladder or spine when laid out.  The are long and flippy, which makes them hard to photograph.  In the photo to the right you can see the texture of the merino and silk together, very shiny when ironed and the merino is nice and soft to the skin.  I used natural merino and then over-dyed it twice to get the variegated tones.  You might need a much substantial scarf  today, but this is good for most weather days in Ireland. 

I am way behind on felting projects, which is about usual.  I have too much going on in my own life that is disrupting production!  There is going to be a great craft fair on in Dingle on Sunday, December 12th from 1-6pm at Benner's Hotel.  I am working on some more scarves that will be done by then and I have more hats coming.  You'd want your hat today! 

So much seems to be coloured by Ireland's disastrous financial situation.  Everyone seems to be so resigned and depressed, but they really can reject the loan and make the banks take the burden instead of adding generations of debt to each person in Ireland.  What makes matters a lot worse is that they are calling for austerity measures for us all and then you hear about €240,000 golden handshakes being given out and how they only two weeks ago voted a pay rise for themselves.  Austerity for all would be bad enough, but it isn't for all.  Morale is quite low.  The Irish news seems to be reporting that there isn't any other option, but calling an election before they finalized the loan is one thing the Irish people can do.  Otherwise, Ireland will be colonized all over again, this time with the banks.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Busy Little Felting Bee....

I have items finished, items dyeing, and items drying at the moment!  I have added to Etsy and posted new things to Facebook and, after some general typing, I have to get MARKETING for the next Lámhdhéanta that is coming up December 4th in Dingle.  This is the busiest November I have had in a long time, but I am hoping Black Friday will kick off some sales.  I am offering free shipping from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.




This bomber-style hat is warm and stylish.  Low on
the neck to keep the wind out!

Ventry Craft Fair was last weekend and I got a special order to do matching cuffs and a headpiece for a fashion show in Killarney.  Interesting.  I need to felt the pieces tomorrow and then once dried I can start the surface decoration.  I plan on doing fun colours and then some multi-coloured with a black background.  The feedback on the cuffs/bracelets was very good, so I am hoping that I sell a good few at the craft fair on December 12th in Dingle at Benner's Hotel.  It's a Sunday and that's a very good day to BUY LOCAL and support local crafts. 

A selection of hats
And then there are the Christmas items that I must finish for friends and family.  God help me, some of them will have to be shipped by December 6th and that doesn't seem far away at all.  I may just about ignore my birthday this year. 

I am teaching a Christmas Foods workshop on December 4th from 1-4pm at the Pobalscoil in Dingle.  The fee is only €20 and will include making yeast bread, limoncello, whiskey liver paté, chilli jam, and more.  Lots of gifts to give for the foodie in your life and handy snack items to have on hand if visitors call by.  I will be including a recipe booklet to take home and samples and group demos to show how easy it all is.    The highlight will be a trifle homemade from beginning to end--so worth the extra effort as people will not forget how gorgeous it is!!

A classic Christmas dessert that becomes
immortal with a little extra work!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

It Makes You Pause and Think...

It's quite easy to get caught up in the details of your own life, particularly when your children are small and one day tends to run into the next.  We all know that we should take time out for ourselves, but it just isn't realistic when there is so much to be done.  We do the best we can and move on. 

Part of my ME time has been to read the blogs of (mostly) other women and see what they are baking, creating, laughing, or crying about.  I enjoy the pictures of their creations, the colours they choose, the journeys they undertake, and the professional courtesies they extend to me (making me feel, rightly or wrongly, that I might be part of that vague and wonderful group of people called Artist someday).

On my blog travels today, I came across a blog post forwarded from Two Dresses Studio via Loves Stitching Red.  Her blog http://twodressesstudio.blogspot.com/2010/08/butterfly-effect-open-is-calling-you.html describes a wonderful effort that is underway to create 1.5 million butterflies for the Holocaust Museum Houston.  During the Holocaust, it is estimated that 1.5 million children were killed and so this project is gathering the butterflies to represent all the children that died.  A rather daunting project, but I can only imagine how visually amazing and humbling the final exhibit will be once they are all in place.

Below is the excerpt that I cut and pasted from Twodressesstudio's blog as it clearly describes the project and how it came about.  Please take a moment to read it.

The Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, we teach the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy. And the tag line following it reads:


Stop Hate. Starting Here.

That grabbed my attention. I read on.....The Butterfly Project mandate is to remember the 1,500,000 innocent children who perished as a result of the Holocaust by collecting 1.5 million handmade butterflies. In Spring 2013, these butterflies will then become a break-taking exhibition to serve as a memory of this event.

Can you imagine? 1.5 million children translated into 1.5 million butterflies....? If you wondering why a butterfly, the project is based on this poem -


I Never Saw Another Butterfly

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing
against a white stone....
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ’way up high.
It went away I’m sure
because it wished
to kiss the world good-bye.
For seven weeks I’ve lived in here
Penned up inside this ghetto.
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.

Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live in here, in the ghetto.

Written by Pavel Friedman, June 4, 1942
Born in Prague on Jan. 7, 1921.
Deported to the Terezin Concentration Camp on April 26, 1942.
Died in Aushchwitz on Sept. 29, 1944.


He was 23. 23. I have a daughter that age.


After a brief moment, I decided, I have to send a butterfly. Then I thought of how I'd love to send a lot of butterflies. Then I thought of the great group of artist friends here ! Who doesn't love a butterfly? And who wouldn't be touched by this poem and this tragedy and want to contribute to this meaningful and lasting exhibit and tribute? And wouldn't it be rewarding to encourage as many people as I could to play along with me???

I believe when I come from a place of abundance, a place of Giving, of Heart and of Light, anything is possible. The universe will support me and everyone else when we act from that Higher Place.

I can already see butterflies arriving in my mailbox from kindred spirits like you who share a similar belief. I'll open the envelope, photograph the butterfly and begin collecting a box full of butterflies to send on behalf of all of us!

Will you play with me? Would you like to be a part of this? Join in and make a butterfly? We'll call it ....The Butterfly Effect "OPEN"...borrowing from chaos theory, but much more importantly based on the wonderful notion that if enough people think enough healing thoughts, then slowly our world will be at peace. No one said it better than Gandhi - Be the change you want to see in the world.  The power of the collective consciousness. Wouldn't this be a great place to start?

Consider yourself invited!
Follow the instructions as outlined by the Holocaust Museum highlighted in blue below. When your copyright free butterfly is completed, pop it into an envelope including your name, email and blog or web address and mail it to:

Two Dresses Studio
1554 - 20 Avenue South
Lethbridge, AB T1K1E9
Canada

DEADLINE - next year, December 31st, 2011


Or, if you'd prefer to bypass the group project, (though it won't be as much fun!) you can mail your butterfly or butterflies directly to:

Holocaust Museum Houston
c/o Butterfly Project
Education Department
5401 Caroline St.
Houston, TX 77004, USA

The deadline for butterflies to be received at the museum has now been established as June 30, 2012

Here are the Instructions for Making the Butterfly:


  • Butterflies should be no larger than 8 inches by 10 inches.
  • Butterflies may be of any medium the artist chooses, but two-dimensional submissions are preferred.
  • Glitter and all glitter-related products should not be used.
  • Food products (cereal, macaroni, candy, marshmallows or other perishables) also should not be used.
End of blog excerpt

 

 I am hoping to get kids involved in the schools to make a few butterflies for me, but at the very least I will send one myself.  I will probably send them directly to Houston.  If you are in West Kerry and want to send a butterfly, you are welcome to forward it to me and I can send them all on together.  There are some examples of the butterflies made and received on Two Dresses Studio's blog, if you need inspiration.  People from all over the world are sending them on to the museum and I'd like to think that in these troubling economic times that we an climb outside of ourselves for a few minutes and remember so many children. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

The End of Mid Term Break...

He thought I was crazy when I realized we were
on Raglan Road ON AN AUTUMN'S DAY!! 
Whew!  Another school holiday down, and just in time, too!  I have a lot of work to get done and that means Small Boy needs to be in school and out of the way.  We went up to Dublin for the LOVELY Knit and Stitch Show http://www.twistedthread.com/ in the RDS and it was wonderful and all too short!  We both too a workshop: mine in resist felting with Feltmakers Ireland and Fionn with Colourcrafts and spritzing Brusho on Lutradur and mucking with all their lovely products www.colourcraftltd.com/. We ran around like headless chickens buying fabric and beads and new scissors and dyes.  I then went over to the community stand Knit One Pass it On and taught crochet for the afternoon.  There weren't a lot of takers on instruction (the stalls were jammed with people buying), but I helped a few and learned a new stitch myself!  The RTE1 show Nationwide was there filming all day  and the exhibitions were stunning.

It passed all too soon and so next year I must try and get there for two days.  I must cultivate Dublin friends who have couches/spare rooms as all these cultural events are in Dublin these days.  Feltmakers Ireland is doing a workshop in late January that I would like to go up for, but the price for all these activities goes up considerably when you have to pay for a hotel.  Feel free to leave a comment if you are in a position to offer because I make a mean breakfast!! 

It's great to have conversations with people who make things and possibly sell them and get updates on new products, shortcuts, creative ideas.  Creating things is a rather solitary process, so the public events shoo us out of our rabbit holes, where we have been muttering and creating for far too long.  We laugh and appreciate each other's work, and eat and try not to spend several weeks worth of wages on things we NEED and WANT badly. For me, its great to get encouragement and advice as I am beginning my selling phase and so many people are there actually making a living at it--it's the light at the end of the tunnel!!

Hilary Bell, Voids 3, Machine Embroidery & Silk.  This was part
of the Filament exhibition.

Sheila Jordan's wonderful piece entitled "Dance of
the Spirits" in wool/cotton/silk for Filament.
Arlene Shawcross' delicate "Fragility" for the Craft Council of Ireland's
exhibition.
Feltmakers Ireland had a wonderful (if not warm) display booth
upstairs on the mezzanine


Volunteers for Knit One Pass it On teaching crochet.  There were
more takers for crochet than knitting.  Hooray!!!




Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I am addled...

Between the mid-term break holidays, a head cold that is refusing to totally evacuate, a mouse in my house (!), and getting ready to leave for Dublin for the Knit and Stitch Show, I am addled.  I am thoroughly disorganized and I am trying to motivate myself to get upstairs and pack, but no, I am here fiddling around on the computer and talking to YOU.  I have mousetraps to set.  I have tolietries to organize.  I have to pack my camera so I can take lovely photos to post here for you.  All I want to do is drink coffee and relax in the chair by the fire.  I think relaxing for the school holidays has gone all a bit wrong ....

I must remind myself of all my fellow fibre people that will be in Dublin for the show!  All those inspiring exhibitions!  All the people that want to learn to crochet!  And we cannot forget the wonderful supplies that will be there: velvet, silks, wool, dyes, paints, beads--oh, my!! 

In between these daydreams, I did manage to felt a scarf and one hat.  The hat needs more work, so  I  haven't photographed it, but the scarf is on the right.  I love the colours, but I do think it needs something more on the length, perhaps a fringe, so it doesn't feel complete to me.  And I dyed more fibres on the dry days this week, so when I get back, armed with my new goodies, I should be heading straight to the studio.

Now, I must head upstairs and face the music!  If I don't get organized, I will be so sorry when I get up at 6am....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Autumn Cometh

This weekend I could definitely feel the chill in the air and last night it was cold!  It was the first night I had to light the fire, instead of wanting the cosiness of it lit.  I suppose my news today is that I have my Etsy site up and running!  It feels a bit like giving birth, except I haven't nosy nurses poking at my girly bits and I am not starving!  But my baby is up and running and now it is time to start SELLING! Plenty more will be added in the coming weeks. 

More nuno felted silk/merino
scarves this week

I am going to be working on scarves this week as the hats and scarves have sold the best.  Lots of purple and gold for our Huskies! I have rovings that are dyed, dried, and ready to go, so I need to make lots of pre-felt pieces to add into the designs and get some chiffon dyed up so it is ready to go on Tuesday.  Chiffon is dry in minutes, so I need to dry my purples and greens and blues so I can get ready to lay down some fibre!  I have the week to complete scarves and then I must get onto some slipper samples.  The resist felting is going really well, but I think the slippers will be more challenging.  And hats!  More hats must be felted.  Eek, I haven't enough time to really get at all the projects I need to!  If felted a lovely dark blue/purple hat for myself and I need a new scarf to go with it :)  When I say NEED, you know what I mean....

It seems like I am inundated with forms to fill out lately.  Paperwork for citizenship, kids, Scouts, jobs.  When I get through this next bit I need to get on to Halloween. We pulled everything out of the attic, but with all the interruptions today, I didn't get a thing put up.   So the house must transform.  At least I will have a great excuse for leaving the dusting for the next few weeks!!




Fishnet cape: crocheted, felted, felted flowers, beaded collar.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Photos Snapped!

Bright pink hand-dyed lambswool
Well, I finished the photography for ETSY today and I just edited the photos.  We have had glorious Indian Summer weather, so the light was perfect.  This is going to be a mostly photographic post, so here goes:

Fishing net cape with beading around the neck
Merino/Silk/Alpaca hat
Turquoise funky beret
Felted, embroidered, and beaded green wrap

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I am not Superstitious!

You can see the Angora and Gotland texture here.
Well, here we are on 10/10/10 and the world has not gone BANG once again.  I actually forgot about it until I looked at the date on the computer dashboard.  Having a head cold for a full week has a way of doing that to you.  Small Boy got a stomach bug and came home from school Monday and was ill on Tuesday.  The cold I thought was gone over last weekend came back, retreated, and came back again.  I think the strong winds that are blowing have got us all on the run, immune systems up and down.  It wasn't cold, but it has been wet and windy and, really, is there anything more annoying than a sinus headache?  I had one for four days this week and I have to admit that I was cranky.  Yes, I was cranky.  Why is that hard to admit?  I think it seems a bit childish for an adult to act irrational, but in this case I had a good reason: banging headache with nowhere to hide from it.


Can you help this beret?

I got two hats made this week in spite of all that.  The first is a beret felted with a resist.  It didn't turn out the way I wanted it to for two reasons: 1. I used gray Angora for the first layer so it would be nice and soft next to the skin and it migrated through the purple Merino and made it look dirty.  2.  I cut the head opening a bit too big.  I made the beret circumference a bit larger than the average beret on purpose, but you get a what-the-heck kind of attitude with a head cold and don't make the smartest decisions, so I just snipped a hole without thinking.  I am hoping to take it in a bit or perhaps sew a band of felt around the brim.  I'm not looking for a traditional beret look anyway.  I fixed the dirty colour problem by over-dyeing the hat with acid dyes after fulling.  I don't think I can felt directly onto the piece after finishing, can I??  Anyone know the answer to that?


The second hat had the same dirty Angora migration problem because my head was too locked to see the problem before I did it a SECOND time....sigh.  I over dyed it after fulling at is came out gorgeous.  Here it is on the right.  It was originally a bit more autumnal with oranges and reds and yellows mixed, but didn't have a great deal of choice when I had to cover the Angora.  The Alpaca also has long, fuzzy fibres and so it seems to be shedding a bit, which you can see on the closeup of the beret.  Will people have to keep it in the freezer???!  I am happy enough with the felting and style, but I might fuss with the folds a bit more.  I am going to stay with the hats this week and see if I can't add some spikes or something interesting like that....

I am finding Lizzie Houghton's book Felting Fashion: Creative and Inspirational Techniques for Feltmakers very, very good.  I am finally wrapping my head around resist felting and making progress on much neater finished products.  The beret would have been felted perfectly if I hadn't made a mess of the head opening and my Leaning Tower of Pisa hat looks good and feels better.  The book has clear illustrations and excellent photos for inspiration.  While the designs might look complicated, they are easy enough to follow and experiment with in your own time.  Felt Fashion: Couture Projects from Garments to Accessories  by Jenne Giles is the new book that I am hoping to get ahold of and peruse a bit.  I have a few on the slide show on the blog.  I really want Art Cloth: A Guide to Surface Design for Fabric by Jane Dunnewold as I hear she is amazing.  The problem with a lot of these techniques is that you really need a demo to get them as they are often complicated and it is the rare book that guides you through the process thoroughly.  Gorgeous colour pics of finished products are all well and good, but if you can't breakdown the process then the book is no good to you.

Meanwhile, my house is a mess and I need to bomb my body with fruit and veg today to make sure this cold is gone, gone, gone!  Time to prepare for the week! 

Sharon's Christmas Countdown

Sharon's Christmas Countdown

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Turning the Corner of October....

Well, it was a quiet week of thinking and sleeping and trying to figure out what to do next.  The only thing seems to be to just push forward, but perhaps not take on too much at one time.  Three workshops on one day seems a bit ambitious, but the lesson is learned.  I think some people might have stayed away because of the economy, but I think many more can afford it and I didn't focus enough on niche markets.  I know that sounds a bit vague, but I have some new ideas that I am not about to divulge yet!

My Junior Felter having a go at a flat piece of felt
I did get my big box full of supplies from Wollknoll finally and that alone is enough to inspire!  I have a hat block to play with and lots Merino and I got some Gotland, which I haven't used before.  I think that it will be a bit more sturdy for the outside of the slippers as Merino tends to pill with tough use.  The Gotland is really beautiful and smells nice (me and my smells--I like the smell of fresh fish, too) and is a rich silvery gray.  It will look beautiful paired with purple and gold!  I am going to re-attempt to make slippers for my brother again.  They didn't turn out great last year, but I crocheted them.  He has very large feet (size 17) and so I have a pattern of his feet, but I am going to have to guess a lot while fulling to make sure I have them right.  I think the wool will give a bit if they are snug...I will tell him to wet them and wear them to allow them to shape to his feet anyway. 

So, hats and slippers and Christmas stockings and ornaments and scarves--and what did I do?  Get a cold.  Damn.  It's almost gone now, but I had a headache for two days and didn't get to play much yet.  Tomorrow!  Back on track again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rush Week

Merino with silk threads and cotton
crocheted snowflake
This week is passing in a blur.  I am working my PR skills like crazy, trying to get the word out on the workshop in (yikes!) three days!  The first one is always the hardest, but once the word is out then things fall into place.  I suppose that is providing that people will enjoy themselves!!  I think they will....

We have three outstanding instructors, a lovely setting, and great food--what more could you ask for?  Food shopping and prep tomorrow after work and then Friday afternoon will be spent getting the room ready and baking desserts.  All things going well, we should have a great time on Saturday!  I will take lots of  pictures....

So, plan to arrive at 1030am to register and have tea/coffee and homemade scones.  You will have time to get acquainted with other participants and check out the pop-up shop we will have there.  There will be quilting supplies, yarns for crochet, and some felting fibres.  I had planned to have lots of hand-dyed fibre goodie bags for felting, but my large order was apparently not received online, so we will be rather limited.  I will bring ordering catalogs so people can see what is out there to order and get an idea of pricing.  Check out our Facebook page 'Lámhdhéanta' for more information about the workshop and instructors.

I have started felting Christmas stockings!  Two down, a zillion to go. The weekend's activities will stop production for awhile, but then full steam ahead next week!   And once my order comes in, it will be hats, hats, hats!  And perhaps a few pairs of slippers....
Resist-felted, hand-dyed Merino
stocking with hand-dyed tussah silk

Monday, September 13, 2010

Another Educational Opportunity....

Well, we are all back in the swing of Autumn and life is returning to a somewhat normal pace.  I have been taking classes with Una Ní Shé for the past few years and she is starting another creative embroidery class in Dingle on October 14th for eight weeks.  You finish in time for Christmas holidays and then she will be teaching a FETAC textile course in February for a much longer session.

Una is very easy-going and an accomplished felt maker.  I owe my love of felt to her :)  She's good at giving instruction without INSTRUCTING, if you know what I mean.  Encouragement without telling you how to make your piece.  We dyed pieces in the last class and stitched, learned reverse applique, and learned a lot of new stitches.  She will be using a lot more multi-media techniques this time, including wax resist, printing, and collage.

A piece-in-progress from Una's last class
This is the official blurb....Please join us for our fun and inspired course where students are introduced to creative embroidery while also developing skills in mixed media materials, including printing, wax, collage, stitch, and dyeing. This 8 week course is starting at an Mhainistir in Dingle, Co Kerry on Thursday, October 14, 2010. The cost is €45.00 and will run from 10:30-1pm. For further information, please ring Jeannette at 066-9152280.  You bring the imagination and we will provide the tea and biscuits!

So!  You have been duly informed.  If you are able to get to Dingle, I highly recommend it :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

After the Wedding

My head does not ache, despite having plenty to drink and getting to bed after 3am, but my feet sure do!  We danced the night away at Siobhan and Thomas' wedding and it was fabulous!  The bride was gorgeous and the groom was very sweet in his speech at dinner.  A great night, really. 

I finished my dress the morning of the wedding, just in time.  I thought I was going to have to wear the felted top wet and smell like a sheep, but I ironed it dry and left in on the laundry line to air in the breeze.  There are plenty of mistakes, but I suppose I am the only one to see most of them.  I ran out of silk chiffon to nuno felt the sleeves, so I had to do them pure Merino, which was a bit warmer than I wanted.  I cut down the neckline a bit lower and over the shoulders to balance it.  If I ever do another dress, I will try to do the whole thing chiffon.  It was hard for me to see the whole thing seamless, but maybe when I start tackling seamless creations then the patterning will make more sense then. I initially made the bodice far too big and I had to add darts and cut it down. I was very happy with the texture and colour, though.  I am glad to have it behind me as it took up so much time with the learning curve and I have a lot to get to this week.

Hope it doesn't spoil the surprise, Woollove!
I have to get started on (YES!) Christmas items.  I am felting Christmas stocking samples this week.  I am going to try and resist felt them and see how they turn out.  And I think the scarves will sell well, so I am felting more of the silk and Merino scarves as soon as my order arrives.  I did a book cover that I sent to Woollove as part of the Clasheen Summer Crafty Swap.  You can see the pics on Flickr.  It turned out well and so I will start a series of those because I think they will sell well for Christmas.  I'd love to receive one! 

The view of Dingle Bay from the Skellig Hotel
This week I have started cranking into high great the publicity on Lámhdhéanta.  The first workshop in the series is on September 25th in Dingle from 11-4pm.  You can drop by at 1030am and have a cuppa and see what we will have to sell there in our supplies shop.  Options in the fibre day are: beginning crochet with Orla Breslin, felting with Una Ni Shé, and patchwork with Nikki Foley.  I have a Facebook page under 'Lámhdhéanta' with more information or you can email sharon1_crandall@hotmail.com.  All are welcome and it should be a great day.  The price is €65 for the day, including all materials and a fine, handmade lunch.  All instructors are very talented in their field and reside in West Kerry.  While I will not continue to use exclusively Kerry artists/creators, we simply have too much talent in the area to not start with the people around us that are making wonderful and diverse pieces.  I think that Dingle is also a wonderful place to come to for the weekend and if anyone is travelling over to Dingle for the workshop and would like to stay overnight, I can recommend decent accommodation. 

Okay, must feed the Small Boy and do a few mundane and decidedly uncreative household chores.  Has to be done!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes...

Yesterday was stunning, the kind of postcard day in West Kerry that makes your heart sing and so glad that you are lucky enough to live here.  Blue skies, a light breeze, and 2,000+ people in Dingle for the 2nd Annual Dingle Marathon.  Fionn and I were signed up to volunteer down at the finish line, handing out goodies as the runners entered Dingle once more.  The forecast was given very poor for the day, so we were very lucky and since most of the runners were not from Dingle, it was even luckier to be able to show off the Peninsula at her best.  We handed out goodie bags from the sponsors, water from Kerry Spring, and passed out t-shirts to the breathless finishers.  I have to say, there was a fantastic atmosphere and the operation was very well organized.  There was great music from a slightly mad Kerryman (never did get his name, but he kept the crowds going) and the locals and visitors alike hung around longer than I thought they would.  Fionn got to hand water to the finishers as the crossed the line and even got to put a few medals around their necks.  Great fun and a wonderful afternoon. For all the events that are put on in Dingle, this one is great: good PR  and money for the town, lots of visitors who seem a largely positive bunch, and the whole lot is cleaned up and tidy afterwards. Win-win!

I had a mad week full of two children's birthday parties, work, sewing labels in clothing, and trying to get a dress sewn/felted for the wedding next Saturday.  I need to just take a look at measurements in my studio tomorrow and we might have a nearly finished dress!  I might want to add a bit of embellishment around the waist area and I need to felt some cobweb felt for fluttery sleeves, but we are nearly there.  I will post photos when I get it done! 

My very grownup little boy started the boy's school for 2nd class/Ranga Dó this week.  He was very nervous about the Irish, but when he got home the first day he told me "Mom, I hate my old school and I love my new school!  We got to play basketball!"  Boys.  They can be bought with food and sports.  Here he is with the new school uniform, which he wore the first day and then he will wear the blue polo shirt and navy track suit bottoms with the sports jacket.  He would live in track suit bottoms if I let him.  I am just relieved that we are off to a good start.  It seems like homework is going to average an hour this year, so it may be hard to get a lot done in studio until he gets it done.  I know he is supposed to start doing a lot of it himself, so once we get a routine going I am hoping he evolves into my little self-starter! 

Not many pics this week as I am getting ready to photograph EVERYTHING for ETSY this week.  Weather forecast is not good...sigh.  Weather has been very good on Sundays, but it's hard to get people to drop everything and model on a Sunday as they often have family plans.  Perhaps the sun will shine only in Dingle once again this week and I can snap everything quick!  Must finish dress and felt some kind of vessel to nicely present our cash present to the bride and groom.  And this week I start Christmas items!  If you think I am a bit daft, then you are forgetting that it takes time to make these lovely, handmade items.  Only 112 days left til Christmas!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to School....

Saturday afternoon's efforts!
Well the silence in our house at 8:45pm was simply blissful.  For those of you who do not have small children, it is very hard to get them to go to bed in the summer due to the long evenings and the fact that they can't really tell time well yet.  So they are monkeys by getting up early with the light and staying up late.  What it means for me is that I did not have any peace in the evenings.  I know with the shorter days we are a bit less productive and the weather might be bad (it might be bad in summer also), but having the small boy in bed for 8:30pm is WONDERFUL.  The stillness to hear myself think and to potter around the house--ahhhhh!  Back to school, but also back to normal.

Fionn is quite nervous about starting the boy's school tomorrow.  He is a bit sensitive and he is particularly upset about their strictness on Irish language.  I have heard that they are not to speak English on grounds at all and he is worried because he doesn't think he has enough to understand or talk, but I think he probably has a lot more than he realizes after four years of school.  I completely believe in immersion to learn a language, but I hope there isn't a penalty for not speaking Irish; negative begets negative and the kids will not love Irish like they should.  There are other boy's in his class that don't speak Irish at home, so I keep telling him that he won't be alone.  He will know a lot of boys there already, so I think once we get past the jitters then things will be fine. 


I got a lot of dyeing done yesterday with the fine weather.  I have a fibre swap to get in the post and a nuno dress project for myself, so I had to get dyeing while I had the weather.  Hopefully with small boy back in school I can get back in the studio on more regular hours as I have only been in on Fridays lately and it is not getting the big or small jobs done.  Still have yet to sew labels in--sigh. I did finish the lacy scarf and it's long and drapey and fab in a Mae West kind of way, but when I put it into the washing machine to felt it stripped the colour out of my lovely hand-dyed silk yarn.  I used acid dyes, so did I not use enough vinegar to set it???  I am wondering if I can put the whole lot into fuchsia dye and try to over dye it again.  Any ideas fibre people?

My first soy wax resist attempt
I felted a sample piece to start playing with the soy wax that I got from http://www.corkartsupplies.com/.  They stock it now and I can get my acid dyes from them instead of ordering from the UK.  Cork Art Supplies ship fast and I receive it next day, so it's wonderful to have them stock things.  I dyed the felt piece with chartreuse (light bright green) first and then heated the wax and painted it on in a random design.  I was more interested in the wax resist, not the design elements really.  I then dyed with turquoise and the silk fibres too the turquoise, but the wool turned a deep green.  After rinsing in cold water, I filled the sink with hot, soapy water and started rubbing the wax out.  Contrary to their claim (I should know better by now), it did not come out all that easily.  I left the piece to soak in hot water and Googled soy wax and it turns out that the wax has to applied very hot for it to absorb well.  I think that I had probably used too much wax in an effort to make sure that it penetrated the dense surface of the felt.  So it took a little work to get it all out.  I think I will do another sample tomorrow and try to keep the wax constantly hot and be a little lighter with it.  It also warned that rinsing out can add waxy build-up in your plumbing, so it might be a good idea to use a bowl and then you can pour it outside because it is all bio-degradable.  So more to come!

And my final piece of news is that I did a big Christmas-Come-Early order from WollKnoll in Germany and I got lots of Merino, Wensleydale, silk, prefelt, shoe lasts for felting slippers, and a hat block, which I have wanted for a long time.  I suppose I need to get going on these things to start making more things for ETSY.  I really need a long table for laying out the scarves as I am working with two tables pushed together in the studio and they are both too short and I have to roll and flip to get coverage on both sides.  It's awkward, but I know it will get easier.  Santa please bring me a long table to felt on!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The day was lovely til it wasn't....

I started cleaning with the high hopes that I would have the afternoon for felting and dyeing projects, but as soon as I started the last (dreaded) task of washing windows the wee little droplets started to fall....sigh.  Perhaps tomorrow.  I have a clean house and I made lovely food for us, but this is not going to get my ETSY on the way.  This brings me to the observation that I have had lately that I notice most artists don't have the cleanest house.  It is perhaps due to some common allergy to cleaning, which I fully appreciate, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they just wouldn't have time to have a sparkling house AND make lovely, handmade items.  My white skirting boards are very dirty, fully of dust that ran in the house when the kids left the door open for the 9th time every day, and I have just decided that if I spend five minutes for the next four days, I might be able to get them back in order.  When I am up the walls, I just don't look down for fear of what I might find or what it might do to my blood pressure.  Don't get me wrong: I LOVE a clean house, but I just don't seem to have enough time to devote to it.  Small children are wonderful, but they are built on the foundations of chocolate, germs, dirt, and sticky kisses.

I have been working on another lacy crocheted scarf since the other ones seem to be getting great reviews (and that leads me to believe that they might sell), but I ran out of the recycled sari silk yarn that I was using as the final row to give it a VA-VOOM!  I was rummaging around my silk drawer and found a skein of white silk yarn that I was saving for a wedding/Holy Communion project that I hadn't gotten to yet and decided to chance dyeing it colours to compliment the charcoal and fuchsia wool I had already used.  I used yellow and them a bright fuchsia over it.  The first time it came out a bit orange, so I used MORE yellow and MORE fuchsia and it's a lovely mix of yellow/orange/pink that suits the other colours.  I reminds me of a sherbet.  Now I have to crochet the last row on and felt it in the wash.  All it needs is a label....



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Are the Days Still Getting Longer????

 It feels like I am going non-stop these days.  Where are the lazy, hazy days of summer?  In between mist/rain I am dyeing fibres for projects and leaving them out to drip.  I have received my labels and must start sewing them in garments.  I am steadily building up a supply of hand-dyed wool yarns.  I hope Santy is bring the good fibre people plenty of pretty wool in their stocking! 

The chiffon piece on the left is for the bodice of a dress I am making myself for a wedding coming up soon.  I have black wool jersey that I bought in Dublin and I want to nuno felt over the chiffon with some lovely hand-dyed Merino and silk.  I dyed some Wensleydale to add in also.  I think it will be a range of pinks/reds in many shades.  Those tend to suit me and so I must do some lighter colours next time to balance the shades. 

Tomorrow I want to start with some of the cotton gauze that I received and nuno felt a scarf with that to see how I like working with it.  The weave is quite fine so I'd say it will make a lovely scarf if I lay my fibres out well.  And I must start my journal cover challenge!  I joined the Clasheen Crafty Swap again for summer, so I will felt fibres into the prefelt that I bought and then try my hand at resist dyeing.  I am all experimentation these days!  I might use some of the soy fibres I bought when I was in America. 

Meanwhile, I am admiring the lovely fuscia/red/orange colours that I got today.    I want to do some more gold and greens tomorrow, because I ran out of daylight today.  Hopefully a dry day for more fun!

Monday, August 16, 2010

August Occasions...

Well, we are halfway through August and the summer is flying.  We had a perfect day yesterday, hot and sunny with blue skies in every direction.  Today, we have THIS--->  Really horrible misty, low cloud day.  Outright pouring now.  Friends in America are sweltering in the heat and we are wondering if we should light the fire!!  There is a mountain range in the upper part of the photo, but you can't even see it.

I got precious little done last week.  Wasn't feeling the best and the weather just did not help motivation any.  And dragging small boy to the studio is getting harder and harder.  Roll on school!!

I did get a scarf felted on Friday.  I think it needs a bit more fulling, but the colours are lovely.  I dyed the chiffon red and then used the hand-dyed merino batts that I got in my Clasheen Crafty Swap for spring.  Very dramatic colours and I do love my reds!  Speaking of Clasheen Crafty Swaps (you can see pics of the swaps on www.flickr.com), the summer one is upon us and we are doing journal covers and are supposed to use experimental materials--in other words, step outside the comfort zone!  I love this.  I have done two journals and I have learned a lot making them.  The last one I placed design bits in the wrong place, but I know now where I should put them, so I think this one will come out well.  I think I will use prefelt and then felt my design and colours over it.  This is my third swap and I highly recommend them because you get matched up with interesting artists/designers and it's great fun opening up the box to see what treats lie inside!  Sometimes you need the pressure/challenge to a new idea going.The winter swap I got at Christmas was fabulous from Reinventing Fashion.  She's Australian and she upcycles clothing and does really funky, retro work.  Hard to find antique fabrics for her in Dingle! 

Since I have to order everything online, I will have to have a few goodies set aside for this winters so I don't have to dig around in a panic.  The bonus of living in a city is that you can just walk out the door and go buy stuff when you want it; here we must PLAN, which is not as much fun.  However, we do not sit parked in our cars for an hour each way to work, which is a real bonus.  Life is a trade off.

How can I dry anything in this???
I have loads of dyeing to do, but will have to wait for a decent day to line dry them as I just don't have room in my house to let things drip dry all over.  I need to dye chiffon for the top portion of a dress that I need to wear to a wedding in a few weeks.  I have wool and silk bits to dry and bag up for sale and I have more of the knitting yarn to dye.  I think I will get more chiffon and then some other silk and try dyeing or painting for effect.  I just saw some lovely felted scarves that had pieces of silk cloth felted in and they were gorgeous, so I want to try that.  It's all money!!

Back to school is upon us and I must get into Tralee and sort out the uniform and get small boy's books.  He is changing schools to an all-boys school and so he has the usual excitement (boys!) and dread (Irish!)  about the change.  He will be fine.  I am going to TRY and get him a new bike while we are in Tralee, if funds allow.  I am trying to clear as many bills as possible before the wedding September 11th.  My dress is mostly sorted, I have shoes, but I will need hair sorted and I need a new handbag anyways.  And drinking from 3pm til the wee hours does not come cheaply!  Irish weddings are all-day to two-day affair. 

Isn't my model gorgeous??? 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The End of a Busy Week

I have had a quiet weekend, but a rather busy week overall.  The details for Lámhdhéanta/Handmade are coming together.  We have instructors for Crochet, Felting, and Patchwork.  We have space at Aiseanna na hOige, the local community centre.  Funding for marketing is underway and I just need to sort out the insurance issue.  We are in pretty good shape for September 25th!

I spend yesterday afternoon getting started dyeing.  I received a nice Merino lace weight wool and a lovely blend of Merino/Alpaca/Silk in a chunkier weight.  I am really happy with the colours!  Today I over-dyed a vest that I felted on Thursday a deep red, but the light faded and it is now a misty, dirty rain so there will be no photos taken now.  I am so delighted with the dyeing process.  I love mixing the colours and testing out new fabrics.  I spent the morning on the Internet and YouTube.com trying to figure out how Chad Alice Hagen dyes her wool so beautifully.  I think she must use encaustics somehow, perhaps the new technique of using soy wax?  I am going to try that and see if it works.  It can't hurt and the soy wax washes out with simple soap and water, so it doesn't involve chemicals and messing around.  Chad Alice's notebooks that she makes are sooo gorgeous.  I would love to be able to dye pieces with such vibrant colour and texture.  I am perhaps light years away from that!  But I have my Wollknoll order to play with and new dyes that came this week.  I mostly use Jacquard Acid Dyes, but Arty's little pen liquid dyes for microwave dyeing (from www.rainbowsilks.co.uk)  is handy because you can quickly space dye pieces with the pen tip.  I got some prefelt from Wollknoll, as well as a kilo of undyed Merino, some cotton gauze for nuno felting, and the Merino knitting yarn for dyeing.  That will keep me busy for the next week.

 I also made the rest of the appliques for my brother and sister-in-law's wedding blanket.  Or rather their wedding present!  Here are a couple of the appliques that I felted and machine stitched.  I decided not to add too much ornament to the appliques because this blanket will need to be washed and glitzy stuff will most likely fall off with normal wear and tear.  This blanket is 100% wool and will last a very long time, possibly the rest of their lives, if they take care of it.  It feels like it has been hanging off the arm of my chair, patiently waiting for me to complete it, for a very long time.  I crocheted nine panels and the stitched them together like a traditional nine patch quilt.  The rest of the quilt is simply filling in the gaps, but the variegated purple wool is a nice silk and merino blend that's baby soft.  All of it should be nice and soft.  I hope they like it because I have spent about 70 hours on it so far.  Sewing a traditional quilt would have taken far less time!

Must go rescue dinner!  Free range roast chicken, one of my favourites, with roasted onions and garlic and spuds and broccoli.  Life is good!


Sneak peek: almost finished!