Handcrafted

We have alpaca. Alpaca give fiber.  LOTS AND LOTS of fiber.

Our animals get their haircuts, or are sheared, in the spring.  Each animal provides almost four pounds of fleece and yes, I know what to do with it. Ill spin it into yarns and then make a variety of items.

Here are a couple of shawlettes that were handwoven on a triangular loom.  The natural colors of alpaca are neutral colors–white, beige, light brown, dark brown, gray, black–these are how alpaca appear in nature.  Anything else is the result of my playing around with dyes and blending other fibers in with the alpaca fiber.  I love to play with colors! OR I might take a commercially spun yarn and ply it in with the natural alpaca yarn to achieve a unique yarn in that way.  Sounds like work, but it’s the FUN kind of work!

Hats are fun to knit or crochet (these are knit) and here are a few samples. All of the colors are neutral/natural colors and the hats are VERY warm. Some of these are sold at market, given as gifts by me, or given by friends to friends.

Not to worry, though.  The animals have plenty of hair left and they will stay warm in cold weather.

And now we will, too.

I’m happy creating!

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello, it’s me…

The summer has come and gone. You know I look for ways in which to find more hours in every day and really, I didn’t mean to stay away from the blogging posts for THIS long. It’s been a while hasn’t it? I trust you’ve been creatively productive, too.

With Farmers’ Markets, farm chores, family happenings and a growing sense of ZEN I find myself trying to be in the here and now more often. It’s easy to think about putting something on a TO DO list, but lately, I’ve been misplacing the list. And when that happens, I re-evaluate what it was that I wanted to accomplish in the first place.

I’ve taken to turning off the television too, and hanging out with one of my Best Friends. Here is a photo:

Because when I spend time doing something I enjoy doing and I work at it Every. Single. Day. then the chances that I’ll get better at something increase greatly. Sometimes I think I sound pretty good, playing in the still, quiet time of the evening or early morning. I play what I want and at my own speed. I learn songs by ear, pick out tunes from You Tube and adapt them to my D A A tuning. The cat joins me on the couch and yes, I put her to sleep. Neither one of us sing.

November is the month for a Na-No-Wri-Mo challenge, and if you think you are up to creating that novel you’ve always wanted to write, it can be a great way to jump start yourself.

And as for me, I’ll take time every day to play a little song, read or write a little “story”, and if I’m lucky, speak (aloud) a few reasonable words.*
(*Attributed to influences of von Goethe)

Happy Creating!

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(I’ll) Take Two Road Trips and Call In The Morning

The wandering creative gypsy in my soul needed a bit of inspiration. One place I found it was at Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden, and if you don’t know his work, please take time to do a bit of research. You won’t be disappointed.

This is the Folk Art Church at dusk. It was beautiful and we spent time walking through the garden and seeing a lot of interesting objects created from recycled “stuff” as well as paintings and words of wisdom.

And here is a photo of the barn at the Highlights Foundation in Honesdale PA. Again, please search for the information and attend a workshop or three. 🙂

These are two places where I feel I’ll be able to get in touch with my creative muse within, and when I needed a bit of a pick-me-up, they certainly did.

Creatively busy. I’ll call later……

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Take Two Road Trips and Call Me In The Morning

   
   

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What Are “Vintage Skills?”

I’ve been seeing articles in magazines, blog posts, newspapers or on television shows that refer to what is known as “sustainable living” or slanting toward a movement becoming known as “vintage revivalism.” Many of these sources cite some of the following as belonging:

Sewing, quilting, handspinning, hand weaving, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, needle craft skills, making pottery, basket weaving, gardening, growing food and herbals, making soap or candles, making jelly or wine or beer making. 

I’ve always enjoyed doing those things. Now it seems more people are enjoying them, too. 

   

  Here is a photograph of a scarf I’ve woven on something called a rigid heddle loom. 

 And when I agreed to help make decorations for a wedding, I practiced cursive handwriting. I was asked to create signage. It’s been a lot of fun and although it’s been a long time since I put that much effort into cursive writing, it was very satisfying, in a most unusual way. 

Time to take a class or learn something new….er, old?….or Vintage!

Happy creating to you, too!

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How Research Takes Me To A Whole Other Place

 

  

  

I am a student of the Creative Arts, as well as a practing crafts person. In order to learn more about the use and preparation of lye and the making of soap, well of course, I have to read about it.    

“Lye–a strong alkaline solution or solid of potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide, made by allowing water to wash through wood ashes. It is used to make soap and drain and oven cleaners. The chemical formula is KOH or NaOH.”

It makes me wish I’d paid more attention during high school Chemistry classes. 

But I read on, and research how to use fireplace ashes and filter rain water through a barrel, and how soap was made hundreds of years ago.  And then I research how craftspeople of today make handmade soaps. I practice their techniques and borrow a recipe or two. 

I can make soap. Out in the barn. Which makes the surroundings smell so nice you’d never guess that there are animals around. 

 The recipe I’ve found most success with includes coconut oil, olive oil, lard, lye, rainwater and fragrance oils. Lemongrass is at the top of my list. When the rosemary grows a little more out in the garden, I’ll pick and dry some of that. It will go in a special soap–to relax with after a long, but creative day. 

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Side Trips and Work-In-Progress

I will make no apologies for not being “here” since my last posting. But here is a brief update. I think I can do that.

September? I do remember it was a whirlwind, but that’s about all.

October? Attended a writer’s conference, fall festivals and continued to plow my way through the first draft of a current writing project.

November? This month was filled with emotion and self reflection. I won’t make any political statements as to the outcome of the presidential election, but philosophical ones, most likely, and still–not here. I choose to focus on raising awareness for the choices people make and how responsibilities and consequences for those actions have an effect on everybody, and that’s all I can say about that.
Any more time spent in this arena takes energy away from the current writing project and focusing on that project is the key component.

Until………
December? We celebrate Christmas on the farm and wished neighbors, family and friends all kinds of Merry Christmases and Happy Holidays. My hands were busy, my heart was happy for the loved ones who were with me and saddened for the ones who are no longer.

It is with hope for the future that I am reminded of a quotation from THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL: “There is no present like the time.” I choose to live creatively.

Happy creating to you, too!

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Story Ideas

Small chairs--as individual as the children who used them!

Small chairs–as individual as the children who used them!

One of the most frequent questions I hear from writers or illustrators is, “Where do you(we) get ideas?”

A lot of the folks I know smile when they hear that and then reply, “Ideas can come from anywhere.”

I used to wonder what they meant by that. Because the thought of ideas for creative projects in drawing or writing being all around and within my grasp was just too hard to believe. Surely it couldn’t be that easy. And most of the time, it’s NOT. Because the idea itself is not the only thing. The WORK to bring forth that idea is the hardest part.

That means, BIC–Behind(mine) In the Chair(working).

One of my Creative Diversions is going to flea markets and auctions, and I was delighted to discover these small children’s chairs. I know some of their history; most of them are solid oak and just the right size for a small child. I sat in one similar to these when I was younger, so these chairs hold a special place in my heart.

The chairs came home with me from the auction.

All 48 of them.

Now, I don’t know what in the world I’m going to do with 48 tiny chairs. Really? But when my Creative Mind begins to consider the 48 children–or more–who might have been sitting in these little chairs all through the years since they were made, and I consider that each child had a story to share…..well, then. There we go. I have parts to a story that’s just begging to be told.

Now I’m OFF to put my seat in a seat and begin the work–of writing today.

I’ve got at least 48 possibilities.

Happy Creating to you, too!

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Farmer’s Marketing

  

 

I go to my Local Farmer’s Market once a week as a vendor. I’m not selling vegetables, although we’ve grown quite a lot of veggies on the farm this summer. 

Actually, I use this time to demonstrate hand spinning alpaca fiber. I talk to people who watch me at the spinning wheel as I turn fiber into yarn. I ask about their creative projects. Many knit or crochet or quilt and we have a lovely time as we swap stories. 

From time to time, folks will share in a memory about an elder relative they recall who spun on a wheel a long time ago, and I’m reminded that it’s these kinds of traditions which need to be preserved.  I hope to be able to do that in my work as I honor things handmade,  and it will be my hope to write about artisans and craftspeople with a voice of authenticity. 

Best of luck in your creative projects, too!

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Busy Hands

There’s a quotation attributed to Benjamin Franklin that I’d like to share, and it’s this:

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.”

So I’ve been busy. 

I’ve been writing AND doing stuff. 

The alpaca have had their yearly haircuts months ago…I have more fiber than I can possibly spin into yarn and I HAVE been making hats, even through the summer heat. 

 

The weather will get cold again and I’ll be ready when it does. 

Vegetables were planted and we harvest something almost every day. What I’m MOST excited about are the jellies: Egarden has produced some fine mints and the blackberry patch has given fruit, so that I’ve made jellies eight or nine times (as of now).

Byron Herbert Reece said, “I am a farmer first and a writer second.” And I get it. I understand. My time is being well spent and I search for balance in creative living every single day. 

Some days produce more words than others, some days give more food or a handmade item, and I have been nourished– either way. 

Happy creating!

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