Thursday, February 28, 2013

TIMT: Yarnicorn Toots

Image found here

Didn't want you to think I'd gotten too serious.  ;-) Kiddo is all about unicorns these days.  Has been for at least a year, actually.  She told me she wanted a yarn unicorn, which was not at all surprising.  I'm thinking about spinning some extra sparkly rainbow yarn and making her one from Stacey Trock's Flavia the Unicorn pattern.  She told me it wouldn't be a unicorn, it would be a yarnicorn!  I love it.  I need a yarnicorn for my shop logo, I think.  Wouldn't that be awesome?

Later that night, I was showing her the new sparkle recipe I'd cooked up.  It's a blend of handdyed firestar and multiple colors of angelina.  I'd done a set of them in a rainbow (noticing a rainbow theme? hint, hint).  Without missing a beat, kiddo, who has been throughly indoctriated in the ways of internet culture, told me they looked like yarnicorn toots.  Because, as all nearly-five-year olds will tell you, toots are very funny stuff.  And unicorns toot rainbows, so a yarnicorn would toot a sparkle rainbow.

I can't argue with that logic. 

tuft of handdyed firestar

 blended by hand 

mix in some angelina in a bunch of purpley colors

Behold!  Yarnicorn Toots!

Glitz is notoriously difficult to photograph, like unicorns, I suppose, but I assure you: these sparkles are INTENSE!!!  There's no filler or wool or anything else in these blends, just straight sparkle in a rainbow of handpicked colors.  Rainbow Teeswater and now rainbow these... I wonder what's up with that...  ;-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Being Small

A small handful of some gorgeous Merino locks (with not even a small bit of vm)

Everything here is small.  Small house, small children, small car, small space.  Small dyelots, small dyepot, small jars of dye.  Small batches of small locks drying on small drying racks.  Small strips of base fibers, separated into small portions by color and tucked into small boxes.

The entire shop, humans (and their big dreams) not included, fits in a small hall closet.* 

It makes sense that a shop, like a human, starts its journey at a size appropriate to beginnings.  If someone had given me hundreds of pounds of fiber, or something like an 8-burner dye stove (!!!), and said "here's your business", I don't know what I would've done.  I want to think I would've gleefully accepted the awesomeness of such things and run with them, but I think I would have been completely overwhelmed to a point where I wasn't able to move (literally and figuratively).

This year, I have felt my little shop growing.  It rolled over.  It's starting to crawl.  Sometimes, it's just kinda sitting there, making goofy faces at me and inviting me to play.  We won't talk about the times when it poops, save to say that everybody poops and a shop can be just as shitty as anything else.  It eats.  Oh, how it eats!  Time, mostly, but energy, too.  But, in a way that is very much like children, it gives so much more than it takes. 

I've learned about dye, fiber types, and how to process raw fleece, but I've also learned about me.  About my own heart, and how important it is to me to have art in the world.  About how I handle frustration, and fear, and jealousy.  About feelings of inadequacy, and how to heal them (give, then give more).  A shop, even a small one, is not for the faint of heart or weak of will.  As much as I would love my days to be all about the fluff and color, there are taxes to be paid and inventory to be counted.  There is always more to learn.

I'm not sure which is growing faster, the shop or the shopowner.  I'm trying to just breathe and enjoy being small.

* - I will take pics.  Someday.  Not today, as everything that should be neatly tucked in its home is all over the house in support of the frenzied creating going to prepare for Homespun Yarn Party.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Teeswater Rainbow

The technicolor sheep have gone technicolor!  These are some of those lovely, lustrous, teeny tiny Teeswater lamb locks I washed up all by myself.  They're for a project in process, but I loved the rainbow so much I wanted to share a progress pic here.

You know what I DON'T love?  Purple! Eff purple. Let me clarify: I love purple.  It's my favorite color.  But it is an epic PITA to dye!  Why ya gotta be like that, purple?  Breakin' in my dyepot, turning all blue and red and shit.  Seriously.  Get yourself together!

Now that that's out of my system... Back to work!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

More Things I Made Thursday

YARN!!!  I'm always somewhat amazed when I finish a skein.  It's so fun to take something from plain fiber, and now even raw fiber, and dye it and card it and spin it and end up with something functional.  I hope it never loses that bit of magic.  I hope I never forget the joy of it.

As promised previously, here's a pic of the "guts" from last Thing I Made Thursday. These were spun from rolags, and the ingredients can be seen in a January edition of Thing I Made Thursday.  Can you tell I like this Thursday thing?  It's a great check in, and it reminds me to keep the blog from getting dusty (again).  Tipping my hat to Amanda Gannon/Naamah_Darling for the idea.

These 5 are all full-size skeins.  Some will be going to the show, and others to the shop.  You'll have to wait to see which go where.  ;-)  The other little skeins are samples from other artists or test batts of my own.  I'm collecting them for a project that is months, or even years off, but maybe I'll snap a stash pic when I add these to the collection.  The red/purple/pink/white one in the middle is a fraternal twin of the "Love Letters" batt set from this TIMT.  Exact same ingredients.  I had to spin it.  HAD TO!  And there's one more, another 4 oz like this one was.  I was going to bring it to the show, but I want to corespin it so badly that I might not make it!  I'll get a skein pic of this one when it's dry and you'll understand.  SO many layers/colors/textures!  And yet it was a quick, easy spin to morph it from 42-ingredient batt to bulky single. 

And then there's this one.  And, yes, I'm going to link you back to its origins.  Not a TIMT post, but a really good description of all the goodies that were hiding in the rolags that became this bulky, threadplied, smooshy wonder.  I really like threadplying yarns spun from rolags.  Threadplying in general makes swirly, lovely yarns, but there's something sweet about the lofty, fluffy woollens that result from rolags and how they get pinched into little pillow-like pockets of awesome when the thread meets them.  These were chunky rolags, so there are wild, escaping locks and all kinds of texture.  The S10 was not happy about any of that, but we found our way eventually.

Yarn is awesome!  Maybe I'll go make more of it.  I know I shouldn't get high on my own supply, but...

TIMT: Something For the Small People

Kiddo had a new friend over this past weekend.  This friend was quite curious about the fiber that's all over the living room at the moment (we've all gotten used to it now).  So I put the business projects on hold and let the girlies go stash diving.  I love what they picked!  Soft wools, bright colors, and TONS of sparkle!

They took turns turning the crank on the drum carder.

Smallsauce was also enjoying this activity.  Such a ham, that one!

Layers, layers and more layers, and SO. MUCH. GLITZ.

They took turns helping me spin, too.

A quick thread ply and then we skeined it up!

Gave it a nice soak, and then split the finished skein in half so that each girlie could have a piece.

I took the opportunity to use kiddo's piece to show her fingerbraiding. I've also heard this called fingerweaving, but I couldn't find a definite answer on the internubs.  If you do this, what do you call it?  In any case, I used to love this as a kid, was surprised how easy it was to remember, and am hoping kiddo picks it up (she was a bit frustrated and asked me to do it for her this time, so I did).

Ta da!

(She would also like to show you her missing tooth!)

I've posted before about crafting with kiddos and what a gift I think it is to be able to share the fiber arts with children.  They are remarkable artists, and they inspire me, probably far more than the other way around.  I came away from this little project with fresh eyes and new ideas.  Also happy kids, which, you know, is pretty great.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Enabling Art

All but one of the orders for Carding Cloth Co-Op One have been shipped!  Here are some pics from our journey to the post office yesterday.

Miraculously, everything fit in the Fit!  I love that not-so-little little car.  Love, love, LOVE!

We saw this awesome yarnbombing as we were leaving the post office.  It seemed appropriate.

A couple people asked me why I was willing to coordinate this project.  I didn't make any money doing it* (in fact, due to the nature of PayPal fees, I ended up paying a bit of my own into it), and that seemed disturbing to some people.  Like there was no value in it for me if I wasn't being paid. 

I look at it differently.  Soon, there will be 50 someodd new blending boards in the world.  That's 50 artists, making art.  I helped make that possible.  I don't know what price I'd put on that, if I had to.  I'm glad I don't.  What I do know is that helping people feels good and art is awesome.  Combining the two makes me happy.  So I guess you could say it was a selfish act on my part: I did it because it made me happy to do it. 

And I'm doing it again.  ;-)  If you're interested in making your own blending board and would like a piece of the blending board specific carding cloth from Howard Brush, check out the Carding Cloth Co-op Round Two thread on Ravelry for more details.

Then go make some art!  We need more of that in the world.

*- Disclosure: I was given a piece of carding cloth as a surprise thank you from the awesome folks at Howard Brush.  I didn't ask for it, but I did accept it.  :-)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Glitz Junkie Turned Glitz Pusher

The first one's free...

I had to snap a quick pic of these Firestar samples I was bagging up.  My glitz addiction has morphed into a need to convert others to the sparkly side!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

TIMT: Technicolor Sheep

You guys, it has been CRAZY here lately!  There is fiber EVERYWHERE!  I'm lucky to have a supportive family, because it is wool city in our home.  The drying rack pictured above is some lovely lamb Teeswater I washed.

That's Border Leicester on top, and a grey Wensleydale/Cotswold cross on the bottom.  There were others, but I didn't get pics in time.  Several more pounds of raw fleece are en route as I type.  Several pounds of undyed top just arrived today.  The dyepot has been on pretty much nonstop all week.  I am flying through stock and having a tough time keeping what I need available!  Such a problem to have!

I am hoarding my fiber for Homespun Yarn Party.  Sorry, shoppers.  I love you dearly, but I need all the stock I can make!  I do have a few surprises planned for the shop before Homespun, but that's not what I was working on this past week.  I've made some gorgeous new colorways, though.  I can't stop to set up the lightbox, but I have taken some in-progress pics to share with you.  Look at all the new lovelies:

This one is "Pirate's Booty" and will come with a handful of naturally golden Indonesian silk cocoons for "gold doubloons".  It's a base of black merino, a mix of blues in Shetland, Superfine Merino, Corriedale, Merino 64s and firestar, carbonized bamboo, milk fiber, silk, blue bamboo and some gold angelina. 

This one is "Butterfly Garden" because our latest cold snap left me dreaming of spring.  We go to a local public garden's "Wings of Fancy" exhibit, and I picked colors that remind me of our time there.  This one's a blend of Polwarth, Merino, Superfine Merino and BFL, with lamb Romney, Teeswater, Mohair and Targhee locks, bamboo, silk and firestar.

"Go Ravens", obviously!  I don't think I need to explain why.  :-)  This one's a base of black merino, a blend of purples on Shetland, Romney, Cotswold, Superfine Merino, Silk Noil, Merino and firestar, undyed faux cashmere, and some gold and black angelina.  The purple is really rich, but hard to photograph.

This became "Huntsman".  I don't seem to have a pic of the finished batt handy.  I'll try to get one before the show.  It's sparkle-free, and very masculine, I think.  Soft, though.  It's a blend of Cormo, Merino, Polwarth, Silk, Superfine Merino, Targhee, Wensleydale and Romney.  Nothing "chunky" in this one, but the blend of fibers will give the finished yarn some texture.

"Unicorns and Fairies", by request.  ;-) Bigger Babester helped pick the colors and fibers for this one.  It is, as you might expect, next-to-babester-skin soft, and very sparkly.  She picked Cormo, Polwarth, Merino, Superfine Merino, Shetland, Bamboo, BFL, firestar in a bunch of colors and some turquoise Teeswater locks.  Definitely a magical mix! 

This one is "Secret Garden", which has the most lovely, sage-y green as its base.  The "secret" (which isn't so secret) are all the little lock "flowers" tucked inside.  This one is sparkle-free, but I made two kits and I'll probably add sparkle when I card up the second.  The bling-free version is a base of Superfine Merino and BFL in several shades of green, planted with Romney, Mohair, lamb Lincoln, and Border Leicester locks.

And these are guts!  No, not really.  This is a yarn I spun from rolags and then thread plied.  It's in its twist-setting soak right now.  The woolen yarn had a lot more loft than other yarns I've thread plied.  It also had all sorts of funky chunky locks and texture and sparkle.  I'll try to get another pic of it once it's dry.  There's a lot of it, and it made the S10 c.r.a.b.b.y., but I think it was worth the struggle.

In non-fibery news, the blending board carding cloth for the co-op I've been coordinating just arrived!  So there's 50 someodd pieces of that to package and ship.  I can't wait to see all the DIY boards people are gonna make!  It's exciting, and I'm happy to have been a part of it.  Once these are out, I'll start Round Two, so stay tuned to the Rollin' Rolags forum on Ravelry, if you're interested.

More colorways to come!  I'm thinking next week will be mostly mini-batts and rolags, but I'm riding the wild donkey of inspiration, so who knows where I'll end up!  Somewhere fun, I'm sure.  :-)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Impostor Syndrome

Yesterday, I went on an internet hunt for more sparkle.  Because, Hi!  Have you met me?  I love sparkle, and am always looking for new flash and glitz.  So I filled out a web form to ask about a particular kind of sparkle and how it might work with what I do, and then went back to doing what I do.

Today, I got a phone call in response to that inquiry.  And the person calling mentioned having seen my blog.  This blog!  Where I write about things like Poop Soup!!!  He didn't seem at all phased by it, and was even able to suggest some alternate fiber supply sources such that I might be able to avoid that particular recipe.  But I kinda freaked out a little.

I am a noob.  I make no claims to the contrary.  I'm new and I'm learning and I'm kinda making it up as I go along.  Okay, I'm completely making it up as I go along.  And I know, intellectually, that everyone else is, too, and it's okay.  But there are moments, like when I get accepted to juried shows, or do interviews, or speak to national representatives of international companies about setting up an account, where I find myself asking "WHO AM I?!?"  Who am I to own a business?  Who am I to make art my business?  Who am I to blog about fiber and yarn and fleece like I know?!  How did I get so lucky and, more paralyzingly, when will this incredible luck run out?  The intellectual "this happens to everybody" part is completely overwhelmed by the emotional goop of it.

One of my favorite fiber artists, Katwise, recently posted something I found very helpful.  She put a name to the feeling I described above: Imposter Syndrome.  This is a thing, and it is no joke.  And now that I have a name for this nefarious thing, I can look back over my journey to present and recognize how this very thing has derailed my train a thousand times already in both business and personal settings.  This, combined with my very human fear of making mistakes and my often debilitating tendency toward perfectionism, keeps me from growing bigger, daring greatly, and saying yes.

I'm not entirely sure how to recover from this strange ailment, but naming it shined a light on it fairly well, so I've at least made a decent start.  And perhaps someone reading this will have their own lights-on moment, and maybe, together, we can find a cure.  For now, I'm going to keep doing what I do, because I really do work here, this really is mine, and it really is awesome.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

TIMT: Order Out Of Chaos

I don't do so well when my "studio" is messy.  Studio in quotes because all of BabesterArts fits in a hall closet!  Because of the limited space available for stash, and for actual workspace, I tend to run a pretty tight ship.  Still, as anyone with a stash knows, things grow.  They multiply in the dark.  They sneak out of their beds at night and are found drunk in the garden the next day.  Or maybe that's just me.  ;-)  In any event, prepping for Homespun Yarn Party is in full swing here, and the only way to do that without going all-the-way-crazy is to keep things well-organized.

My first project was to take an inventory of what fibers I already have and in what colors so I'd know what I needed to shop for and what I need to dye.  The cats were particularly interested in this, as they're never allowed near the stash.  Since everything is in plastic bags (because I am terrified by the thought of moth infestations), I figured it wasn't a big deal to let my feline assistants monitor my progress.

My human assistant was far more helpful.  Husby helped me separate things by fiber and then sort them into piles by color.  Everything was already sorted by fiber, so it wasn't a terrible project.  It was more a matter of taking the 8 pieces of hand-dyed Polwarth and making 8 bags for them by color, etc.  Not a small task when you consider that I have 20-25 types of fiber on hand at any time (not counting locks- which are a whole 'nother project/post).

Tada!  Everything is now neatly tucked into boxes by color family: Reds, Oranges, Yellows, Greens, Blues, Purples, Pinks (because kiddo's favorite color is pink and so there simply MUST be pink, and lots of it), Browns, and Blacks & Grays.  It's wonderful.  Not only is it easy to grab and blend while making up batts, but it's super simple to monitor which colors are running low (Reds right now, as the watermelon project used quite a bit of them).  

Gratuitous shot of the firestar collection, just because.  As you can see, I've been dyeing a bit since my last post about the sparklies!  I threw a little chunk of firestar into the pot each time I dyed a sample of the new acid dyes, so now I have this awesome rainbow collection of sparkle to work with!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Six By Six

Remember when I mentioned that there was an awesome fiber fest coming up and I really wanted to vend there but I didn't know if I was ready and I was all kinds of nervous about applying and...?  I WAS ACCEPTED!!!  I get to vend at Homespun Yarn Party 2013!  YAY!!!  This is gonna be AWESOME!

I sent my booth fee as soon as I saw my acceptance letter.  Then, with the help of my amazing family, I came up with a plan for how to show all the BabesterArts goodness in the six foot by six foot space each vendor is allowed.  That's not a whole lot of room.  Bigger Babester helped me tape off a 6'x6' square in the living room, and we brainstormed together.  I'd love to have gridwall eventually, but it's too great an expense for my first show.  I think we've come up with a viable alternative; more on that later.

For now, I'm just freaking out happy!  Join me in celebrating by using code "HYPHYPHOORAY" for 25% off all orders placed this month!  Fibery fun fest, here we come!