Manic Dynamic Majacrafters – Magic made on Looms!

Manic Dynamic Majacrafters – Magic made on Looms!

A little while ago, we (Esther, Donni, and Me) started up our new Manic Dynamic Majacrafters Facebook Group especially for those of us lucky enough to have our own Majacraft Dynamic Heddle loom to play with, (and those aspiring to have one). Since we started this group it has grown and grown in a most splendid fashion! We are up to over 160 members, and the creativity I see within the group is just fantastic and so inspirational.  I love it that the pieces people are making are all so incredibly different, unique, and very diverse, everyone has their own touch and special approach to working on their looms. So I thought it was a very interesting thing to highlight this idea of individuality and uniqueness by setting up a challenge for everyone! And the challenge? Make a piece in which the focus was on texture and form, rather than colour, so using the same tonal range within each piece, and working on developing ways of varying the weaving through creating surface design. I thought this might really highlight the unique approaches to the constructions and techniques used when creating these works of art. The results were stunning! I have gathered up some examples here of work from our group members. Its eye candy. Its brain boost. Its simply manically marvellous 🙂 I love each piece!   First, a pic of the piece made by a special friend who lives here in Holland too, Brigitte. These are totally ‘her’ colours 🙂 and I especially adore the way she has used the coils to make texture in the weft. Next is an image of some stunning textural elements created by Mary of Fiber Creek Farm, theres a lot going on in this piece but that is balanced beautifully by her choices of natural shades. This next gorgeous piece is from Tracie , I just love the colour, its so light and dreamy, and her use of contrasting textures and open weave really adds to that quality.    Now here is a very striking and dramatic item made by Robyn Betts from some amazingly black Alpaca fleece. She has also used some wonderful texture contrasts, and made a diva of a drapey scarf. I could see myself wearing this one ALL winter. Ahem 😉   What follows now is another wonderful, made in Holland, piece from Karen Bruinsma, her ‘Waterfall’ scarf, which combines some beautiful aqua blue shades with some very pretty textures and her clever use of the little felted neps that she created for this too. I must learn how to do that! Its awesome. The next image is from Rahel Hecht, who is creating some really stunning weavings...

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Alpaca Milestones Summer Wool Days

Alpaca Milestones Summer Wool Days

Finally we seem to have achieved something that resembles summer here in the Netherlands! Blue sky, warm sun, birds singing (at least in our garden) annoyingly peeping and dive bombing the cat. Apart from that though, it’s now definately a time to be outside. So last weekend I packed up my wheel, some Fiber, and my hand combs, and went off to enjoy the Summer Wool Day at my friends Alpaca farm in Ridderkerk. It’s always a pleasure to visit with Marian, not to mention the amazing Fiber she always has! I’m talking really fabulous quality alpaca fleece. It was Marian’s Fiber that I used for my Lord of the Rings concept yarns, my favourite of which is actually one of the simplest, hand combed white alpaca with a silver thread. It has the most amazing drape and definition and I am SO still hoarding it 🙂 Back to the day 🙂 It was gorgeously sunny, and populated with some amazing people, I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces, and sitting in the shade with Patty to spin, and (I am quite proud of this) I also managed not to maim her with my hand combs as I paused my spinning to comb the next bunch of fiber. Just as well too as she needed some concentration to work on her band weaving! I really like combing alpaca, I think it gives a much nicer preparation for the yarn, less fluffy, and I think it enhances the drape, or maybe thats just me 🙂  And I also usually blend in a bit of sparkle as I am combing too. In this case I also added an extra colour as well to make a nice reddish brown. Sophie was also with us from Belgium, and was curious about the hand combing, she tried it out on some newly acquired Ouessant fiber (I very nearly bought the black fleece!) This is a lovely fiber, from such a cute sheep – read about them HERE if youre curious too 🙂  As you can see in the pic, Sophie found that combing it worked really nicely!   The hosts of the day, Douglas and Marian, also took a tour to see the Alpaca, including a week old cria.  This is a working farm with a focus on producing top quality fiber, while they remain very much animal focussed, with the wellbeing of the flock, coupled with care for the environment, being one of their primary interests. You can visit them too, at least, virtually: at their Alpaca Milestones website. These ‘Summer Wool’ days are an annual event at Marians, and I can totally recommend going next year, such a lovely atmosphere there, and of course, awesome...

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Workshopping

Workshopping

I have a few things to share this week. The first and most important thing is the one about connection. This is where I get a little teary eyed and filled with amazement and thankfulness that my life is blessed with some of the most wonderful people. I had one of these moments today, sitting at one end of a room that was filled with fiber, yarns, spinning wheels, and people. I struck me how much I love being in this environment, how lucky I am to have connections with people like my friend Alet, who organises events like this, and Esther who brings her energy and creativity and shares them like this, and both are people who transform the lives of others with the things they do. This is something really cool to be a part of. The last few days, teaching with Esther, and the evenings working on our weavings and spinning together, have been a really great experience, learning, laughing, sharing ideas and getting excited about the same things. So I wanted to share that with you too, because I think its always good to take a moment to stop, and appreciate the positive things in our lives. And no matter where you are at, if you look, you will find something. At least thats what my generally optimistic brain tells me, and I really hope that is true 🙂 And the workshops? Awesome 🙂 We have carded, rolagged, combed, hackled, and of course SPUN ALL THE THINGS. We have had some ‘aha’ moments, and certainly some ‘oh thats how it works!’ experiences too. Its been awesome to have the opportunity to share this with Esther and I have learned and laughed a lot and am totally enjoying this opportunity to teach together. I think we make a good team! Our first workshop was with the beginning art yarn spinners, a fantastic group with much enthusiasm, humour, and talent, they made some really amazing yarns. Today we started with the second workshop for the more advanced art yarn spinners, so we are planning a nice range of yarns to spin, with the goal of also weaving them on the second day, and we have something special planned for that! So this is an update post, and I will be back later this week with an ‘its over’ post and more photos and, no doubt, with a sense of sadness that its over and also anticipation for the next one 🙂 But for now, ENJOY THE DAY....

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Spinning Trials

Spinning Trials

Another short post today, just because I wanted to share a little video with you that I made last week. I was playing around with the idea of Nply (aka navajo Ply aka Chain Ply) and I figured out this way of doing it around a core yarn. Its a lot of fun to do this, and it makes really huge stacks that, because of the chaining, are relatively stable as well. The cool thing is the variations you can get with this, making smaller or larger stacks, using smooth or textured yarns, thick or thin or thick AND thin, even the possibility of adding in objects by threading them onto your loop as you ply… What else is super cool, is that since I shared the video on FB, some other people have been trying this too and sharing the result with me! I am looking at YOU Lisa Renee McKenzie! Check out this amazing yarn she did!   and I know she is making more, and had a great idea for adding in Beehive coils too! I love the snowball effect that ideas have 🙂 Lisa called these ‘Megastacks’ and I really like that name, lets stick with that one 🙂   So this is my quick post, here is the video! and some pics of the yarn I made like this, and there will be more to come.. This is a very simple technique in which you simply wrap your NPly around a core thread, taking the yarn from the opposite side of the core to form your chain. I also discovered its possible to alternate grabbing that yarn from over or under the core, so altering the texture of the stacks. There will be lots more experiments to come, Lisa and I already thought of: using a thick and thin yarn, addins, using a really overspun yarn to add in snarls, and of course, there are all kinds of colour possibilities too! If you try this one too, please tag me if you post pics to Facebook, I would LOVE to see what you dream up with it! and here are some images of the yarns I trialled with this...

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I dare you to!

I dare you to!

Last week I had a particularly cool day. I went to the Hand Craft Fair held in Rotterdam, its a big event and I was really looking forward to it – not least because I was planning on seeing some people there I havent seen in a while, as well as meeting up with Deidre (Deidre Dreams) – we have been chatting off and on for months on Facebook, as well as buying each others products! So this was already cool. Add to that the potential of making awesome finds and purchases, getting new ideas, and seeing what everyone else is doing, had to be good right!? It got even better. I found the stand of the lovely Alet from Textielwerk en Zo, she was surrounded by quite a number of people talking yarns, I didn’t want to disturb that so I went in search of adventure and found where Monique was manning the spinning wheels and carders at a big table. She gleefully revealed to me a large box under the table with all the left over fibers that Esther (JazzTurtle) had brought over for the workshop back in June. I say box. I mean TREASURE CHEST. I looked at Monique and I am sure she knew exactly what was going through my mind as she pointed to the drum carders. Yes! I reached in and grabbed handful after handful, allowing whatever came out of the box to take its place in the batt, as was its right. At some point, I found a white feather, it was attached, to a feather boa. It was one of the things I had added to the pile back at the workshop, one end was quite bald, and I briefly considered plucking off some more feathers to spin into the yarn. My mind balked at this idea. I wanted to whip up something fast, make it look easy, show off  the Aura and  just what can be done with an it (as it is The One Wheel afterall). The thought raced across my mind, accompanied with an image; Why not spin the WHOLE THING into the yarn? What? But.. but… its thick.. and fat with feathers!’ I thought. Followed by ‘well, thats why you have an Aura isnt it? So you can do crazy things?’ ‘But.. its weird, isnt it? a lump of feathers in the middle of a skein?’ ‘well? so?’ Ok then, dammit! I WILL spin this boa straight into the yarn! I cut off a length about 16 inches long, and sat with it, and the batt, on my knee. There were also strips of fabric, many many different colours and fibers, sparkly christmas tinsel, and Monique even found...

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