Jazzturtle is coming!

Jazzturtle is coming!

Making a quick post today to share some news. And if youre in the Netherlands, or hailing distance of, you might just want to jump at an opportunity here! June this year sees the return of Esther Rodgers (Jazzturtle) to our flat lands for more amazing workshops! Extra special for me this year because I will also be there to assist her during the FOUR DAY fiber extravaganza! The lovely Alet has been busy organising an amazing stay for us at a wonderful location of Mennorode in the middle of the Veluwe natural park area (which is gorgeous), and the cost includes full board during the workshop duration (OMG and materials too!), so the fun doesnt have to stop at the end of the workshop day (YAY!). Esther is a wonderfully talented fiber artist from the US, she is especially known for her amazing extreme tailspun yarns, and I know first hand just how awesome her fantastically textured batt making is. Like me, Esther has also been caught by the weaving bug too, and is producing some incredible constructions with handspuns. During her stay here we will be covering two workshops, the first at the beginning of the week is designed for beginning art yarn spinners, people who are ready to expand their spin horizons, try out lots of new techniques, create their own very expressive yarns and learn some principles of art yarn design. Esther has a great program and I will also be there to assist during class so you can be really sure of loads of personal attention, this is a great opportunity to really get to grips (ok maybe not literally!) with your fibers and start experimenting with sculpting them to your will!  The second set of workshop days are designed for more advanced art yarn spinners, more technique sharing, trouble shooting, and a move into weaving too! (YES I am excited about this!) Esther is incredibly creative and innovative, I think its fabulous that we can share time and some of that creativity with her in such fabulous way! Ok, details: Here’s the program! Workshop 1   (Friday 28th of June : 17.00  to Sunday 30 June 15.00) 18.00 Dinner Buffet 19.30 Programme and start workshops till 21.30 hours Saturday 29 and Sunday 30: carding techniques on several types of carders and blending boards, lots of spinning techniques like core spinning, tail spinning etc. We will work till 15.00 on Sunday, show and tell. Workshop 2 is for the advanced art yarn spinner. Sunday 30th of June: 17.00 to Tuesday 2 July 15.000 (or maybe even a day longer if people want!) After the welome at 17.00 the program is the same as from workshop 1. There...

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Spinners Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Spinners Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Last year I was very happy to provide an article for the lovely, eye-candy-full fiber magazine ‘Entangled’. This article was rather fun to write, probably more about my warped sense of humour than anything yarn related, but, maybe you will like it anyway! Now, since Entangled has stopped publishing (sob), I think its probably ok for me to share the article with you all here too. I’d love to hear any tips you may have for surviving the zombie apocalypse as well, I am sure there is something I missed from our fiberistas arsenal! Click the link HERE to open the article, you wont be sorry! (I think)  ...

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Weaving. An Unexpected Journey.

Weaving. An Unexpected Journey.

Unexpected? Actually, yes it is. I started out spinning because my aunt suggested it and set me up with a wheel and lessons, and now, I cant for the life of me remember exactly how that came about! I have never been much of a knitter, apart from in my teen years, inspired by a lovely german woman staying with us, I did make many crazy colourful leg warmers and several attempts at jerseys. I bought a book of stitches and worked through it, even learning some fancy celtic type cables that got integrated into the current leg warmer at the time. But no matter how many fancy stitches I learned I couldn’t follow a pattern, and now I wouldn’t be able to recreate those cables even if I concentrated very hard. But I love spinning anyway. I love the fiber and the colours and, well, all the things from my last blog post! I have been lucky to be able to find a good outlet with Etsy for selling what I make, or we would be swimming in yarn here. In fact I could have single-handedly shored up the outer defence dykes with colourful skeins and saved the Netherlands from the rising water level effects of global warming by 2015, if I wasnt selling the yarn I produce. I never once aspired to weaving. It always seemed like a seriously technical art, involving counting, repeated patterns (a lost concept on me) and an organised mind. I never wanted to make tea towels. I guess I had quite a few stereotyped pre-judgements about what weaving was all about. I was generalising way too much. Because in fact, weaving is actually totally amazing. It combines colour, texture, fiber, and creativity in a very satisfying way. Did you ever do something just once, and realise in the first few minutes, that it was something you had actually always wanted to do but hadnt realised it until that exact moment when your hands began that specific journey? Thats me and weaving. Its not just because its a fantastic way to finally be able to really use the yarns I make myself, its also something to do with the wonderful way the fibers and yarns interlock, like putting that last piece into a jigsaw puzzle, everything just fits. I love to use really textured yarns, but also very fine yarns that make a beautiful fabric, each strand woven through the others. I find it incredibly tactile and cant help but run my hands  over the fabric as it builds up, just to feel the substance of what I am creating from single threads of fiber.  Maybe I am just a weirdo, its like...

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Fiber Love

Fiber Love

Fiber. Soft, tactile, comforting, warm, pliable, face-plantable, cuddly, colourful, pure, organic,  sculptural, smooth, rough… it has the almost magical property of being transformable, from single fine fibers to strong warmth-giving fabric, its been part of our lives since prehistoric times in one form or another, is it in our DNA that we love it? When I ran the blending board giveaway last week I asked people to post a comment with their reasons for loving fiber. This was all part of a cunning plan, an information gathering to quench my own curiosity,  what is it about fiber that makes us love it so? Is it the sheer sensuousness of it? The tactile have-to-touch-that message that fiber sends out, have you noticed how people cant keep their hands off it? The first thing we want to discover about our fibers is, what do they feel like? A kind of drawing to touch it exudes somehow from the essence of the fiber itself, doesnt seem to matter if its raw wool, washed and dyed, carded, combed top, or spun yarn, even knitted or made into something. We have to touch it. Is it the colour of it that draws us? Do we love the excitement of dyeing some fiber and the constant surprises we can get when its done, the way fibers take up colour so incredibly and allow them to blend and merge in fascinating ways. Is it the thrill of overdyeing a naturally dark fiber and getting a deep rich colour like its come up out of the depths of the earth to enrich our vision, or the bright cheerfulness of strong colour on a white fleece, it can be so vibrant and creates such a feast for the eyes. Is it the way we can use it? We can felt it, spin it, sculpt it, knit it, crochet it, weave it, put it to use on our own bodies as clothing and decoration, create warm blankets for our family to protect them from the cold of winter, make people smile by gifting them something we have created with our own imaginations and our own hands, its like giving them a big heartfelt bearhug that they can feel everytime they wear what we made them. Having read everyones comments, and revelling in discovering so many parallels, connections between us, and a shared love of fiber, I think its very much to do with all the above, but also  in the way we use it as individuals, because it gives us the means to express our creativity in so many different ways. One medium, one simple thing, fiber, creating with fiber, used by so many people and everytime becoming something utterly unique and...

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How they do it in Holland

How they do it in Holland

Here in the Netherlands, rather than having a ‘guild’ as such, we have a National Spinning Group organisation, (Landelijke Spingroep). They send out regular newsletters, keep registrations and a list of all the local spinning groups, and organise an annual spinners weekend party. They also arrange demonstrations and keep a presence of spinners at many events around the country, and generally work to coordinate activities for us and share information.  Yesterday was the AGM. I had to get up pretty early to drive to Arnhem but it was worth it! Of course, when you get THIS many spinners together in one room, you also have to do more than talk, so the first part of the day involved rows and rows of people with wheels whirring, pausing only to hold up red or green cards at appropriate times as we worked through the agenda. As I reflect on this experience I can honestly say this was probably the most productive meeting I have ever attended! Something else that was quite interesting to me, as a New Zealander living inside the Dutch culture, was the experience of the famous Dutch directness at its best. People are not afraid to stand up and say what they think in quite a direct manner. Sometimes this may seem a little… inappropriate to someone from another culture, depending on the situation and relationships, but in this meeting, even though there was very little disagreement on any of the points, it became clear to me that, by the end of the meeting, it was easy to be confident in decisions and votes, because you just ‘know’ that if anyone had something to add they would have done that, leaving no resentments or hidden agendas. At least, this is my interpretation! Now comes the really fun part, after the official meeting ended, and lunch was consumed, all the stand holders opened for business, and the demonstrations began! Esther and I were there to demonstrate art yarn spinning and I had also been asked to bring my hackle to demonstrate. Apparently the video I made some time back had caught the eye of the organisers and they thought it would be interesting for members to see, and I was very happy to note the interest in what I was doing with it! I took some bright rovings in pinks and oranges, and angelina of course, and started blending and dizzing the roving. People were really surprised at how easy it is to do! I hope it inspired others to try it as well. Most were impressed with how quick it was to create a beautiful lofty roving that really looked good enough to eat! If you are...

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