Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Alpacas and Goats

Fiber Festival Sign…but no sheep! Just lots of wool at the RI Wool and Fiber Festival. For some reason I thought it was the RI Sheep and Wool Festival.

All the signs said “Fiber Festival,” which really made me wonder if anyone who was not already into fiber would be encouraged to attend.

Most people think Fiber is what you find in healthy breakfast cereals.

I spent the day demonstrating tapestry weaving on my Friendly Loom, and helping children weave on little frame looms. I took this photo before I adjusted the height of the loom. It gets shortened to fit in the car. Demo Tent

It was a gorgeous day, sunny and just warm enough but a little windy.

I had to borrow two large rocks from the nearby stone wall to put on the loom’s feet, after it almost blew over.  It was fun to see many friends and some of my students who were participating in the Sheep to Shawl demonstration.

IMG_5517Here’s the tapestry I was weaving…..I think I’ll unweave it. I usually weave with about 9 or 10 warps per inch, and this is only 4 1/2. ACK! It’s really hard to make a nice steep diagonal line, never mind a smooth curve. It was fun to weave something that grows so quickly, but I think I’ll re-warp the loom with more warps per inch before the next time I demonstrate.

I love to introduce people to tapestry weaving. You might say I’m kind of a tapestry evangelist.

My tent-mate was a hooker, just like my Mom (who also got a big Kit's Sheepkick out of referring to herself this way!)  only instead of rugs, Kit Salisbury hooks smaller projects like tea cozies, runners etc.

I particularly admired her sheep and cows.

There was a stream of children visiting our tent and concentrating on hooking small houses and Kit's cowsthe like, and weaving on my frame looms.

I can’t believe I’ve never been to Coggeshall Farm before, since I’ve lived in Rhode Island for 26 years.

It’s a small historic farm on a hill overlooking the salt marsh, on the edge of Colt State Park. I know my kids visited on school field trips, like very other RI school child! Between Coggeshall Farm and Slater Mill Historic Site, you won’t find too many Rhode Islanders who are unfamiliar with basic textile processes.

Here’s the marsh right across the street from the festival.Salt Marsh

Our tent was next to a little shed in front of which a historic re-enactor was demonstrating flax preparation and spinning. His spiel was very amusing and I didn’t get tired of hearing it even after the first 20 times or so!

Flax Demo

I bought a lovely silver and brass wool needle from Leslie Wind, who was demonstrating her jewelry making right next door. I was tempted by her lovely shawl pins, but was feeling a big frugal.

Another neighbor, Rose Ann Hunter introduced me to an amazing collection of pieces made with early American textile techniques that she has researched over the years. Alpacas 3

All of these are creative ways to reuse the smallest fabric scraps, which are gathered, rolled and otherwise manipulated before being assembled. I particularly love her “Standing Wool” Rugs.

It’s hard to describe how this is done, but you might be able to tell from looking at the photos on her website.  Alpaca face 2

I bought a pair of incredibly soft socks from the owners of these adorable alpacas, who live right here in RI, at Ice Pond Farm. They look so huggable. We’re having a few cold rainy days now and the socks are keeping my feet nice and warm.

Heide Pygora This is Heidi, a pygora goat, whose fleece is heavenly. This breed is  a cross between pygmy and angora goats. Heidi’s little friend is a lovely shade of grayish tan.

There were some lovely lacy scarves knitted from their fleeces. SOOO soft.

I think I stumbled on the best way to immunize myself against the temptation to add to my yarn stash. Little Brown Pygora

A few days before the festival I was looking for a particular yarn for my demonstration tapestry (which I never found) and ended up taking all the storage containers out of my studio closet.

These boxes are in addition to the yarns on my shelves, and in large plastic jugs, assorted baskets, and in the cedar chest. Wool Festival

It was much easier to resist all the fabulous yarn at the festival, since that experience was fresh in my mind! I found myself thinking “Yes, but I already have an entire box or that kind of yarn, which I am not using….”

2 comments:

K Spoering said...

What if you finish the little tapestry at the loose set, then do the same piece at your regular sett? It would be a great demo for students to see the difference!

J. Austin - said...

What a great idea! That way I won't be cursing myself all the way through as it's not turning out the way I wanted.

I'm going for it!