Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Quickie...

This is just a quick post to show off two new hats I completed this week.  I have a load of purple on the brain as I have a custom order and I am doing 2-3 different styles and the customer will choose their favourite.  So far, they are totally different!

The first one is hand-dyed Merino with dark purple Gotland curls on the brim.  I carefully stitched the brim up and added grape-like clusters of purple glass seed beads.

The second hat I resist-felted and was trying to
develop the pattern into a cute style I saw online.
The side tail was supposed to collapse inward into a swirl on the side of the hat, but the tail is too long, so must adjust the pattern and have another try at it.  I do like the tail, however, and I over dyed the hat which came out quite dark purple with hints of pink where the silk threads peek through.  There are also pieces of silk habotai and Wensleydale curls felted in, but it so dark that its hard to see them by camera.  I think I might do a sprinkling of beads on the tail...

Meanwhile, it's time to get myself ready to head back into the studio.  Lots to do!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Getting the Head Ready

Felted with Merino and silk pieces, hand-dyed, and then
embellished with hand-felted and dyed pieces and glass
When I go full tilt all week, it is completely essential to have the relaxing Sunday at home.  I try to sleep in, but my eyes open at the same time every day.  However, when it's raining and I am snuggled in the flannel sheets, it's enough to know that I don't have to get up and rush around.  Eventually, I gather laundry, strip beds, and head down to put a load on and start the essential coffee.  I potter around for the day, detoxing toilets, cooking, doing computer work,  and trying to gather the approximately 7,000 pieces of Lego that are in every corner of the house.  I can't complain about the Lego because I have wool all over the house!  I never have a dirty house, but it's some job to keep the level of clutter down.  Children don't seem to MIND the clutter all over the place...

Crochet and then machine felted with hand-dyed yarns.
Over sized flower handmade and dyed with stitching
and glass seed beads.
I finished my green and gold hats and got my window done for the Kerry match.  We will not discuss today's Kerry match.  Here's another pink one finished.  I felted a purple hat that I forgot to photograph and I found a whole stash of completed hats when I was cleaning out my old studio.  They need to be embellished, so I imagine I will be beading and sewing a lot next week.  I am in the middle of moving my old studio into my new space and I am trying to organize so that when we are on the taste trail for the Dingle Food Festival that there will be space for everyone.  I found the new fixtures for displaying hats online and so now I just need the money to purchase!  It isn't too expensive.  I was hoping that I might have them for the Food Festival so things are looking good, but money is slow to come in the door--as usual.  Priority number one is getting the outside of the shop painted as it will make a major difference.  That and a big sign proclaiming Ciarraí Creations that can be seen from the bridge.  All in due time...

Doll competed by a 9 year in Dingle Craft
Club.  Her name is Aisling!
We had our second session of the Dingle Craft Club and the books that we are making are coming along great.  After a bit of sketching, I cut Vilene for them and they painted them up.  I meant for them to only paint a background colour as we would be collaging over it, but they put details in.  No matter, they will see what I meant by next week.  Saturday, they added more items in layers and started working on the fabric pages.  We used coloured inks on the pages as it creates a watercolour affect and dries quickly.  Then we will start sewing in earnest next week, adding layers and details.  Also, with guidance I will introduce them to the sewing machine.  And we have to seal the covers with decoupage.  Must get pics next week as we are so busy for that two hours that time just flies!

In the meantime, the bacon and cabbage is ready.  Time to drown our football sorrows in piggy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Keeping the Faith

New hat: merino, alpaca, & silk fibres & pieces.  Decor
in progress!
I try not to be a worrier, but it is very hard not to at times.  And these are worrying times that we are living in.  Quite a lot is changing quickly and we are coping as best we can with limited resources and changing incomes.  But I also reach a stage where I think "To Hell with it!"  Either the hard work pays off or it won't.  Either you can make a difference or you won't.  I take time out to think and find the solution for myself and just keep plowing on...

So, I am relieved to see modest progress with my new workshop space.  Craft in Kerry is no longer part of the Handmade Sessions as the summer was just too slow and the guild did not have the resources to keep going forever.  I personally paid out quite a lot of money from my own resources and that could not continue.  I took over the place as a studio/teaching space for myself as of September 1st and things seem to be falling into a nice routine.  The kid's Dingle Craft Club started yesterday and I had a good start.  It will pay the rent and keep me going while I work hard at developing new hats and scarves.  I am looking into exporting as sales are just too slow in Ireland.

Closeup of the texture of merino and silk
I will be on the food trail of the Dingle Food & Wine Festival with Blúiríní Blasta cafe (located in the Seal Sanctuary in Lispole).  The girls make WONDERFUL food, but also sell their homemade jams and are developing other products for sale in their cafe.  The are going to be making their homemade jamtastic cakes for the trail and I will be felting.  Should be great fun!  

I have a whole pile of new hats that are ALMOST done.  Mostly the finishing decorations.  So, it will feel good to put four new hats out by end of day on Tuesday and start work on yet more.  Being productive is a big relief for stressful money juggling!

So, these developments are good. Yes, I would love to be making actual money instead of breaking even, but sometimes you just have to keep going and hope for the best...

New fabric collage for my Green & Gold window that
is going up very SOON.  The All Ireland is next Sunday,
so it has to happen soon!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sundays are my best day...

Teal hat: merino, alpaca, and silk.
Thank God, August is over!  I am thoroughly exhausted and run-down, despite eating properly and getting enough sleep.  Working 60-70 hours per week just does not suit me.  Or, rather, I could do it for a week, but heading into the sunset working that much is not good.  And no holiday in sight it seems.

The Heritage Week event with Camphill went very well and we had a modest turnout of 125 people.  Despite our best planning, we ended up competing with the Dublin/Donegal match to see who Kerry would end up playing in the All-Ireland Final--you just can't compete with football around here!  Many thanks to Camphill who demonstrated candle-making, weaving, and spinning and Craft in Kerry demonstrated felt making, wood turning, and pottery.  Kerry County Council Heritage Office was kind enough to give us a bursary for the event, so that helped sort out operating expenses and gave Camphill a bit for their time and effort.

I got quite a few scarves made in August, so I am in a good position to start on hats. It is time to consider hats! I made a lovely teal felted hat and now much start a range of colours going. I am also crocheting hats because they really do sell well and are less expensive for me to produce and for consumers to buy. As per usual, nothing drab.  If we are to endure these cold winters, we need a little colour to pick ourselves up!  

In the meantime, I am planning 8 week courses for autumn.  I will be teaching a basic felting course at Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne and a class in Handmade Home.  This class will focus on personalizing your home with your beautifully made items, concentrating on Christmas decor as the term ends.  The first few weeks will be spent on basic instructions and practice and then students will have time to concentrate on an area that particularly appeals to them.  We will felt, crochet, stitch, and see what comes out on top!  I am looking forward to it.  It will be offered 1030-1230pm and also 7-9pm, both on Thursdays beginning September 29th. Leave a message here and I will get back to you with details.

New nuno felted wrap: silk chiffon and merino/gotland curls.
All hand-dyed.

Yes, it is what you think it is!  People keep asking me
for tea cosies and so I finally made a few. These are
hand-dyed with silk pieces.