felt luminary

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

More on the Process & Tools of Botanical Dyeing

  This is mostly for a friend, Paula, who's art work I greatly admire and thus enjoy collecting (check out her ETSY shops PaulaArt & Industrial Habitat) and other friends and family who have expressed interest and curiosity regarding the botanical dyeing process I have become fascinated with.  Hopefully those who have been keeping up with my little blog will also enjoy it! 
   In the photos below I will try to convey the process I go through in order to get the images, color and texture of leaves, berries, bark, rusty metal and whatever else I think may give an interesting look to either wool or silk.  So far I have worked with silk and wool; separately or combined in the nuno-felting process.  These are called protein fibers, fibers that came from an animal like sheep and silk worms as apposed to plant fibers like cotton and linen.  Plant fibers require a complex pre-treatment before the fibers will accept the color of the dye material.......but I plan on experimenting with that very soon!

 For the color and image of the plant material to permanently transfer or print on the wool or silk it requires something called a mordant.  A mordant causes a type of chemical reaction that allows this to happen.  A mordant can be alum, iron, copper-to name just a few-and each will give a different effect and color.  For botanical printing my preference has been iron and I use iron based metal pipes, stove handles, splitters & rail spikes, pictured above.  The other rusty bits make awesome marks and designs on the fabrics, and my foot.......... that's just there to give a perspective as to the size of the iron tools I use!  I will go into how I use them in just a bit.

The next important element is the plant matter!  The most striking image has been an old favorite of mine, the eucalyptus leaf.  I have always loved the long, arching shape of the leaf and the unusual berries......never realizing that under the right conditions they produce a brilliant orange to rich brown image.  It's the smaller leaves shown here that have given me a bright orange to rust while the larger ones usually a shade of brown to rusty brown.  My second favorite is the extremely common and abundant yellow onion skins!  I also use and experiment with cloves, safflower petals, turmeric, black walnut hulls, calendula, wild geranium, japanese maple & madrone bark to name a few.  
   After soaking the wool, silk or nuno-felt for an hour or more I then gently squeeze most of the water out and lay the piece out flat on a table and spray it with vinegar.  We've found the vinegar works with the eucalyptus to give that orange/rust color.  ("we" being my good friend and very talented dyer/felter, Carin Engen)  Then I lay out my plant matter.  If I'm using wool or felt I try to lay out the plant matter that will hopefully compliment the finished piece I'm going for.  The wool and felt will produce a definite leaf image where the silk is more, well, air-y?  I will then fold the wool or felt in a manner so it is just wide enough to fit around my iron pipe.  I will then place the pipe at the end of the fabric and very tightly wrap the fabric around the pipe and tie it as tight as possible with string.  The string will leave an image that creates texture on the fabric.  If I am dyeing silk, I randomly scatter the plant material over half of the silk, fold the other half over the plant matter then either fold or scrunch the silk up, occasionally twist it up and then wrap it around the pipe.  Where it touches the pipe it will create a black/rust marking.  I also tightly wrap string around it.  The photo above is silk after it is done steaming...........After the fabric is bundled up the get steamed in an old roasting pan for two hours.  Sometimes I allow the piece to cool and sit overnight before unwrapping.......usually I am so excited to see the results I can only wait until the piece has cooled completely.  Remember that feeling as a kid, waiting for everyone else to wake up before you can run out and open presents?!?  That is exactly the feeling I get every single time when un-bundling one my projects!!!  Below are some of my results............

 This is silk with a bit of safflower, the black is black walnut hulls lightly scattered and the dark pink are whole cochineal pieces. (Cochineal is a dried bug that thrives on a cactus in South America! How someone discovered it would give a dark to bright fuchsia pink...?!?!)  I then accordion folded it and wrapped it around a rail road spike.  I love this piece! 

Here on the right is a nuno-felted cowl, wool side out, the top is folded down a bit showing the silk.  I only used eucalyptus leaves and the small berries that were on the branches.  The black outline on the leaves & berries and the grey marks were all caused by the iron stove handle I wrapped it around.  If I had used a copper pipe the rusty leaves would be peach, berries light orange and no black and greys-much more pastel.  I'm not a pastel gal at all..... another reason I love the effect of the iron!  

On the left here is the detail on the sleeve of a cashmere sweater I got at a second hand store for $20!!  Takes the fear factor out of dyeing cashmere for sure!  Notice how on the upper area of the sleeve the eucalyptus leaves are orange and further down the are dark rust with a heavy black out line... this is because it was closer to the pipe.  The bottom of the sleeve is very dark and the rust on the pipe transferred to the sweater...I LOVE this effect!!  In fact, if you look closely you can see the letters from the pipe, actually a cast iron stove handle, have transferred to the wool!  It's important when laying out your leaves and folding the sweater or fabric where you want the vivid black and rust that comes from being next to the pipe.  When dyeing fabric pieces this is easier but when doing a piece of clothing it can be tricky!  We have been learning by experimenting & doing, that is so important when learning anything!  Below is a picture of the whole sweater front, below that is the image on the upper center back of the sweater where I got a great imprint using the larger eucalyptus leaves-you can also really see the string marks.  The last shot is a close up of the very bottom of the front of the sweater, I just love these small little eucalyptus leaves.  Look closely and you can see the horizontal image of an old iron tool of some sort that I put in the center of the sweater while rolling it up.  I used a total of three iron pieces to roll up this sweater.

 This is the first big piece I botanically dyed.  It's a shrug type of jacket, first I nuno-felted a large rectangle then I sewed up the two ends part of the way to form the sleeves and then dyed it.  It fit perfectly.  I had the iron pipes on the end of each sleeve to darken them and I really liked how it looks.  But for me..... the rest of the jacket was too light. 

I made a tea from old eucalyptus leaves and bark.....for the tea I will soak plant matter in a large bucket of  rain water - when it rains in Northern California - for a few days in a location that gets sun most of the day.....allowing it to brew.  Then I will boil it down on the stove to concentrate it, then submerge what ever you want to dye.  Usually I get a lovely brown with a bit of rust.  My plan was to soak the jacket in the tea and darken it up some.  Not much happened submerging it in the room temperature tea so, not wanting to shrink the jacket, I warmed it up then soaked the jacket.  After 20 minutes I had some color but wanted more.  Wait another 20-30 minutes, perfect color and the orange/rust of the leaves still looked great.  I was worried it would dull them.  I couldn't wait for it to dry and see how it looked on, color changes when it's dry.  Well, the color was great.......but, sigh, it had shrunk up to where it is not loose and flowing but tight and constrained looking!!  *#@!#^%  I was so devastated I to take it off and put it out of sight so I wouldn't have that sickening feeling every time I walked in my room.  Of course I cried to Carin right away.  She assured me we could stretch it out by re-wetting it and tugging......nuno felt is really very durable.  I didn't have the guts to do it alone and brought it with me the next time I went to her place in Garberville.  We were so busy with the felting retreat she was having we forgot all about it.  It is still folded up and too small.  Fingers crossed and will stay crossed until the next time I go up.  Anyway, lets move on....  

 These little squares I LOVE SO MUCH!!!  They are about 4" inches square.  I layered the squares of wool fabric with eucalyptus leaves & berries with pieces of old rusty washers and such and sandwiched them between old rusty can lids.  Held the bundles together with clamps and string and steamed them for a couple of hours.  This was a blast to open up to discover these cool images!!

Left and below is a nuno felted top I made a couple of months ago at Carin's felting retreat.  The left is the detail of the back with the string marks.  Below is the front of the dress which looks much blacker toward the bottom than it is, lighting!  I nuno felted the top, the wool side is out and left the bottom just silk.  I used a great textured silk we call seer- sucker, it looks great botanically dyed!  It fits and I'm so happy with it.  I will NOT be darkening it in a tea! 

The pipe was at the bottom.  The top had a dark grey/brown because I actually did put it in a tea after steaming it.  Since the piece was already very hot from steaming and put into a hot tea it didn't shock the wool and shrink it further.  The fact that it was also very tightly would and bound around a pipe prevented shrinkage as well.
I have found for myself at least, it is best to make your garment a bit larger than desired before botanically dyeing it because the steaming and teas will shrink up the wool some, it's a logical effect. 

 A close up of sleeves from a different second hand cashmere sweater I dyed, they turned out so cool!  I especially am thrilled with the bottom of the right sleeve.....the grid mark that was made with the iron handle I used.  It is the handle on the far left in the very first picture of this post.
Some people don't like the vivid marks the iron pipes/pieces make.  Hmmmm?!
To avoid them they will wrap a scrap piece of wool fabric, felt or silk around the pipe before wrapping the garment and steaming it.  And honestly, I think the scrap pieces they use look amazing and I use them in patchwork.

Below are pictures of silk I have botanically dyed.  First is a test piece.  I put different varieties of eucalyptus leave I had collected around town that were unknown to me.  I put the leaves on the wool, right, then put a piece of silk on top of that.  This way I will know how each leaf reacts on both wool and silk.  In a notebook I noted which leaf was where on the wool & silk, where it was collected, the time of year (it definitely makes a difference), how long it was steamed and left to cool. You can see the numbers I wrote later next to each leaf.  I personally feel making test pieces is invaluable and marking and sorting the leaves I dry and save for future use is also.  After taking all the time and hard work to make, say, a nuno-felted top......I certainly want to know if my plant matter will create the desired effect I'm going for!  A big part of the appeal - for me anyway - with botanical dyeing is really never knowing exactly what it will look like when you unwrap it!  But knowing how a particular piece of plant will print is a huge plus.  To unwrap a top and find out everything was a dull beige, boring.
 Below.  A close up of a piece botanically dyed silk using some onion skins, eucalyptus berries, dried safflower petals and dried black walnut hulls twisted and wrapped around an iron pipe and tightly tied. 
 Below.  A close up of another piece of botanically dyed silk.  I used only onion skin and ground black walnut hulls, twisted then tightly wrapped around an iron pipe and tied with string.
Below.  A test piece of white nuno felt, wool side out, of a eucalyptus branch with leaves and berries-the small black specks are the seeds from the berries that came out onto the wool while laying down the branch.  I folded the piece in half to see if I liked what a mirrored image would be.

  The last part of the process after unwrapping your fabric....... Remove the plant matter, noting what created what image.  Shake off all the little bits and hang or lay flat to dry.  It's important to let a botanically dyed or printed piece to cure in the air for at least 4 days and up to a week.  It is exciting to see what was a beige leaf become a dark olive leaf after being exposed to oxygen for a day or so, light orange becomes a dark rust.  Personally I like to heat set each piece with an iron after it's been cured, just to be on the safe side.  After curing-go two weeks at most, it's important to soak the dyed fabric in a tub of room temp. water and two teaspoons of baking soda for at least an hour.  This neutralizes the effects of the iron and rust.  If you skip this process you risk the fabric deteriorating.  After the soda fix, rinse the piece in water until no more color comes out, then I like to wash it using a wool wash (NOT woolite!!) , Eucalan is my favorite because it doesn't need rinsing and smells great! There is a certain smell that comes from this whole process, not all that pleasant, thus another good reason to wash it.  Roll it in a towel, blot, and block the piece flat or hang to dry.  

  It is a lengthy process but so worth it!!  I love it because you get a unique, one of a kind look using materials found in nature.......so very many possibilities are out there.  I touched on a small fraction of what's possible.  And there are also many different ways to get a botanical image!!!  I'm just learning.  I learned a lot by reading; lots of different natural dyeing books, books that tell you what plants produce what color, and there is an abundant number of blogs on the subject , but mostly I learned by experimenting!  And having a friend to experiment and share results with has been invaluable.  Carin also has a blog that talks about botanical dyeing, it's called Artfully Felt and is on Blogger too.  She teaches botanical dyeing occasionally and we both teach together during retreats, check her blog for dates & locations.  I am also available to teach in the Northern California area, just contact me through the blog here.

  Paula, Laura, Lauren & Sara, Mum, Katie and all my other curious friends.....I hope you now have a better understanding of what goes into botanical dyeing and/or printing!   Let me know if you want to give it a try.........  I think this is coming in a close second to felting......luckily they compliment each other perfectly!  And I truly appreciate the encouragement and interest you all have shared with me, thank you.

  Love to all!   

Monday, September 14, 2015

Botanical Printing & Dyeing

Lately I have not been making as much with felt as I would like.  There are so many ideas for projects I want to create with felt!  Most have made it into a notebook but it's great to be able to begin work while the idea is fresh and the creative energy is flowing!  What can I say, life puts up road blocks occasionallyAll is good now so I hope you will be seeing more innovative & unique ideas appearing here very soon.
It's impossible to not create for some, I'm fortunate enough to be one.  My friend, Carin Engen, and I began experimenting with botanical printing and dyeing a few years ago and WHOA! is this ever fun!!  It really would take me pages to describe the processes, yes-there are many variables, so I'm going to briefly describe what I have done in the photos to follow so you get a taste of what's happening.  One thing that is a "definite" about this process.....there is never a definite!  The variables are so vast.  For example: I collect two dry eucalyptus leaves from the same tree in the spring and print one of them on wool at my house.  I get a black outline of the leaf and the color is a rich, nutty brown.  I print the other leaf the next week at Carin's on wool and I get a bright orange leaf with no outline.  Could be the ph of the water, the pipe used to wrap it around.......You get the idea.  However, I have yet to get a bad result! 

Some call it eco-printing or eco-dyeing, the phrases where coined by India Flint.  Carin and I prefer to use "botanical" as we don't follow any one technique, we experiment and enjoy our results. If you want to read up on the technique there is a wealth of information on the web as well as classes beginning to be offered now.  

 Images created on silk or wool using one or more of eucalyptus, onion skins, black walnut, cochineal, rusty washers to name a few.

Pieces of silk & wool wrapped around iron pipe with plant material folded with in the fabrics then tightly tied with string.  They are steamed for close to 2 hours, turning at regular intervals.    

Here on the right is a nuno felted shrug that I made then botanically printed with eucalyptus leaves and berries.

 I love this piece of silk, to me it looks like a cut slab of exotic marble!  I used this to make a piece that is between a cowl and wrap, it looked great.  Above.

 This is one of my favorite pieces that I've made.  It's nuno felted with a large piece of silk I dyed using primarily onion skins & black walnut hulls.  Right after this picture was taken I received the buttons a friend & talented artist, Victoria Cochran, made for the vest and they look amazing-I wish I had a good photo with the buttons on!  Whenever I wear this I get so many compliments!  One woman even offered to buy it for, well hundreds.  That made my day......but there is no way I could sell it.

I have been doing a decent amount of experimenting with this new art form and hope to show more results soon!  Since I can combine it with my felting it is the perfect compliment with nuno felt, I don't feel like I'm taking time away from my preferred creative medium.


I'm Teaching At This Year's Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival!

This is exciting news for me........I have been accepted to teach at The Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival 2015.  It takes place September 25, 26 & 27 in Canby Oregon.  I will be teaching my class all day on Saturday the 26th.  The official class title is "A Felted Tablet Case".... the students will learn how to make a wet felted case to hold an i-pad, NOOK or Kindle tablet.  They will learn how to wrap wool around a template and felt it to form a holding area for the tablet with an inner, seamless pocket and a fold-over flap the student will design.  The picture below is an example of what we will be doing.

  The smaller surface detail was stitched using free-motion embroidery.  We will not have the time or the equipment (sewing machines with free-motion capabilities) to do this in the class but I will give a demonstration at the end of the class to show students the basic idea.  
  I have taught felting to others before but never in a fair or festival setting.  I'm really excited at the opportunity and I have to thank my good friend Carin Engen for encouraging me to put in a proposal to teach the class in the first place! Carin has been nudging me to get out and teach at larger venues, shoring up my confidence.....and as always, she is spot on.  Thanks Carin! 
  Here is another example of a case I made in the next photo.  I love how the ginkgo inspired leaf turned out!

 Lately I have been using my i-pad to help me in making decisions about design layout, if the colors work, is it balanced...  I find seeing an image of whatever I'm designing is very helpful but I don't know the reasoning as to why it works.......it just does.  I hold the i-pad above the piece, click and then view it.  The two shots below I used in the designing of the ginkgo leaf.

  The top picture is a layout of the leaf.  I took a photo because I was wondering if some kind of veining would make it look more leaf like. I laid down some thin black yarn where the veins on a ginkgo leaf would be and took another shot.  Looking at the photo my answer was a quick and definite NO.  Honestly, I wasn't sure just looking at it on the table.  
  Time to get to work on gathering supplies.  Hopefully it won't take too long for me to post the results of my adventure!  If any readers live near the Portland area I know there are still spots available for my class, sign up is possible up to the day of class, Saturday the 26th......be sure to bring your tablet!!

Be happy!  Be well! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Foot Stool Cover.....maybe

On and off, for the past 6 months, I've been working on this project. 
 I have finally finished all the 
free motion stitching
and it done!

Sometimes I would sit staring at thread colors, pondering which one
to use where, do I want contrast or no...
But what fun!  
It was usually an ache in my back that let me know I was stitching for an hour or 
more with out taking the much
needed time to stretch or correct my posture.  

This is the completed piece on the left.
The whole thing is a 17" inch square that I intend to cover an antique foot stool with.

This photo on the right 
is part of the design
before any stitching was done.

Here on the left is that same
part of the design
now stitched with the free motion stitching.
It's such a transformation once
the stitching goes on!
I didn't have a specific pattern I wanted to stitch here, that's part of the fun, it's always kind of a treat to see what develops as 
I stitch.

I just love the pattern that developed on
this lower shot!  It's definitely
my favorite in the whole piece.  I used an all cotton thread on 
this lower part, in the picture above I used a 
polyester thread.  I find myself preferring the all
cotton thread but I haven't been able to
to put into words why...

To make this piece I used black superfine merino for the backing and the designs
were created using partial felts that I made with various 
types of hand dyed wool and wool/silk blends from my stash.
And then the vines and such are Malabrigo yarns,
I always love the way they just melt into the wool and create
great swirly texture!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Redemption or "The Good..."

The finished result of my second attempt at this bag!  The previous post showed my first attempt....not so pretty.....but I think this turned out wonderful.  I'm still debating if I should put a button on the flap or not.  We'll see.  I was so happy with the results I made a similar one, only larger, for myself.  This one will be put on my Etsy site soon.

Here on the left are two details I added to the bag.  One is a stitched patch I put on over the area where I stitched the cord straps on.  I prefer to stitch the straps on, I feel it's stronger and it hangs better.  When I have felted the cords to the bag I'm never quite happy with the results.....too bulky looking.  The second are some felt bands that I made to go around the cords so they don't separate and tangle.  The bands move freely, there are three total.

This, obviously, is the inside pocket and the loop on the left is to clip your keys to.  I played around with the pocket....while you can't see it, I sprinkled some German glass glitter on the gold roving  for the pocket before I wet it out.  It ended up looking pretty good and sticking!  While I'm not a glitzy gal it was fun.

 Below is a close up of the front flap.  I felted in some of my hand spun "art" yarn alone the center sides.  In the center I did some free motion embroidery of swirls.  Stitching on felt creates such cool texture, you can't really tell, but the areas between the stitching almost puff up.  It always amazes me how dense and sturdy the felt is after stitching it!  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

This is one fuzzy bag !
 I suppose I could only write posts where I show my best work and have lovely photos of it, then you might believe I am such an amazing craftswoman.  Well, lets be honest, not every piece I or anyone else makes turns out perfect all the time.  There is a reason some sayings have been around a long time, like "we learn from our mistakes", "practice makes perfect"..... Both apply here so lets go with it.  Here is what happened and what you can do to make it better.

I wanted to try out a new shape for a purse that's been dancing around my head for a bit.  I will use Corriedale wool for the bag, it is a more durable choice for purses and boots or clogs - it felts up strong and sturdy and it doesn't tend to pill up on the surface like Merino can. I am in love with a new color way my dear friend has created: PANSY by Carin Engen Fiber Arts.  Well, I only had one ounce of it.  I had loads in a natural grey. But I really wanted it Pansy......once my mind is set on something.  So I decided I would use the grey on all the inner layers and for the last outer layer I would use the Pansy........I knew that some of the grey would work their way to the surface during the felting and fulling process, thus lightening the colors of the Pansy outer layer.  Ok, it was a test bag.......it would be cool if it turned out to be something I could use or sell in the end...not.  The giant top photo is the back side of the finished bag taken in the sunlight to show ALL the grey fuzzies

that came through the top layer.  The next one down was taken out of the sun, still fuzzy but not as dramatic in the photo but it still looked horrible in real life.

What to do, what to do?!?  I am going to point out here just one of the many benefits of taking felting classes......you learn great little techniques to make your felt look more polished-well finished.  If you can, take a felting class!!

 Well, when we get kind of fuzzy and unruly in the areas we don't want excess hair, what do we do........get out the razor!  Think about it, felt is wool which is essentially hair.  Now this is important!  Go buy a cheep-o single edge razor with NO moisture strip on it.  Double/triple edged razors just increase your risk of gouging your felt, and the moisture strip........that's for your skin.......it just gunks up the felt.  The picture above here on the left shows the flap of the bag, the right side and the center have been shaved, the left has not.  Before shaving you honestly could not distinguish the center horizontal yarns or the yarns creating the center band! 
A small chunk of wool taken off by pressing to hard


- your felt should have been rinsed clean then rolled in a towel and most of the moisture blotted out.
- put one hand under the area you are going to shave for support or you can lay it on a hard surface, I prefer my hand because I can tell the amount of pressure I'm using.
- use a short, repetitive motion, don't press down hard, a bit lighter than you would press down on your own skin.  start out in an area that's a bit more out of the way, better yet practice on the inside or back of the piece.  Once you're confident and have a feel of the needed pressure begin on the main area.
- go either horizontal or vertical and stick with that direction and do your shaving in blocks.  It is alright to gently go over yarns or silk fibers-fibers, not silk fabric,  as long as they have felted into the wool correctly.  If they aren't fused to the wool well shaving may just pull them off.
- pull the fuzzies off as you go.  You should only need to go over an area once.
-  here on the right is most of the fuzz I got off this bag and the razor I used, just a cheep bic razor with just one blade, no more!
- take your time, don't try to rush it.  The picture above on the right shows an area where I over shaved, spent too much time in an area.  If there had been multiple layers of the Pansy it wouldn't have been so noticeable.  If it's really obvious you could go in and with a thin felting needle and some wool of the same color, fill the hole by gently needle felting it in.  I would then wet around it and with a dab of soap gently wet felt that area so you can't tell it was needle felted.

A few side notes about shaving your felt:
*any piece of felt can be shaved to give it a neater, cleaner look
*all types of pure wool felt will handle a shave, this doesn't include locks
*NOT so with blends of wool and silk or bamboo or tencell or hemp.  If you feel it truly
   needs it, experiment on a practice piece or where it won't be seen or matter it if
   makes a gouge or even a hole.
*silk fabric that has been nuno felted into your work should never be shaved! ! !
   a razor and silk should not come in contact, it's never good-yep-I made that mistake

Below are the before (on top) and after (on bottom) photos.  Honestly, the camera didn't do justice to the dramatic difference.  I made the photos as large as I could so you can see the change, hopefully.  After shaving the richness of the colors came through and the bag had, well-a much smoother surface, much more appealing.
I will end up just using this bag as a practice surface to do free motion embroidery on but it was a good lesson in patience or lack there of!  Next time I hope I will have more patience before I go through all the time and effort it takes to make a good piece of felt.  It ended up being a well felted & fulled bag, I like the shape, inner pocket placement, on my next bag of the same shape I will change the flap design.....so I did learn a few things and hopefully my flop taught you a thing or two.  It is rare that I don't learn something new with each piece I felt, good or bad......and sometimes ugly. 


I mentioned that I used a hand dyed wool called Pansy in Corriedale created by Carin Engen.  I want to give her a bit of a plug here........her hand dyed wool really is beautiful and very well crafted.  I have been using it for years in my work and always love the results.......unless I mess it up with grey wool that is!
She has a shop site on Etsy called CarinEngenFiberArts where you can purchase her hand dyed wool.  She sells nuno scarf kits and also, she found an artisan to make the most amazing felting tool, it's called a felting stone and it works wonderfully!  I use mine constantly, I even wrote a post about it earlier on.  Carin teaches throughout the country, mostly in California though, and you can check her blog site, listed on her Etsy shop to find out where she is teaching next.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Too Busy To Blog......Doing What?!

Well, this January my husband, Jack, got me a spinning wheel for our 32nd anniversary.   He's such a great guy.....  I've been wanting to try spinning for years, as with felting, for me-there is a great sense of satisfaction  in being able to create a useful item from basic materials, things people have been using for thousands of years.  Keeping old ways alive in the fast paced, instant gratification world we live in today grounds me and makes me happy! 
My first spin.....

...then it got better....

The wheel I ended up getting was a Lendrum Original.  A few of my friends that spin all said this was the best wheel for a beginner and that it would also be a good wheel as I got better.  They were so right!  I'm surprised at how quickly I picked this craft up, it's been such fun spinning all different types & colors of hand dyed rovings and hand carded batts of wool then try to decide which would look good plied together , I just love creating this yarn!!  While I taught myself to spin I have to give a great deal of credit to my friend Lori Lawson.  Lori is one talented lady, she dyes her own wool, spins beautiful yarns, knits equally beautifully, felts, weaves....you get the idea.  She has a great blog :   http://paintspinknit.blogspot.com/
as well as one of my favorite Etsy sites:  
Via emails she gave me invaluable advice, after writing and getting to know each other she invited me to her home while I was in So. Cal this spring for a one on one tutorial.  I had such fun and picked up some great techniques for spinning!
Thanks Lori! 
and better yet!

of course I had to knit something with my yarn...a cowl
 So for a few months I did very little felting and loads of spinning and knitting.  Yeah, you could say I was obsessed. And it was (is) so much fun!

But felting is my first love and things have evened out lately and I am now spending about an equal amount of time spinning and felting.  Well, there is another avenue I have ventured down this past month but that is another blog entry!
 These last few photos on the right are some of my latest yarns.  The one on top I am currently using to knit a shawl, I had two skeins of it.

 The yarn on the bottom was the yarn I learned how to correctly ply on at Lori's.  That was an "ah ha!"  discovery and so key to a good yarn!  I'm currently using it to knit a hat pattern that Lori wrote.  I feel pretty good about these, while I would love to be able to get these thinner, sock weight, I
realize it will come with time
 and practice.  Couldn't tell you
what weight these are, I'm not a 
seasoned enough knitter/ spinner to know that just by looking at it!  Usually the nice label on the skein of yarn tells me that, guess I better get with it and figure it out.

So that and life in general has been keeping me busy enough to have neglected my blog. 
I'll try and do better............