Largest ArtL!nks vessel underway and pictures of my stash from Avoca!

My largest ArtL!nks vessel is now underway and I thought I would share this picture with you all, it’s not got the best colour contrast but it does give an idea of the size involved when you see the template beside my washing up bowl and sprinkler! 

Putting the vessel size in perspective

Eventually I decided to lay merino on the inside and mohair waste on the outside for this experiment.  I do really want to have a large vessel with the chocolate and orange design but for the first one this will be a less costly experiment if anything does go wrong!  More pictures of the vessel in progress are going up on Flickr but I don’t know how many I will have time to upload before I have to pack the truck for my session with Borris Active Retirement this afternoon.

I also promised you a couple of pictures of the goodies I scored at Avoca on Saturday, well here they are, one more to follow tomorrow!!! 

My Valentine's Day jacket from Alan

Gorgeous tweed and new stash of buttons!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!!  XXX
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Avoca Handweavers – a wonderful sale yesterday!

Yesterday Alan came with me for a drive to the beautifully sited Avoca Handweavers in the picturesque village of Avoca, Co. Wicklow, the small country village where the popular television series Ballykissangel was filmed.  Once a year Avoca Handweavers have a monsterous sale of buttons, handwoven fabric, odd cones of yarn and a selection of odds and ends of scarves and rugs. 

Avoca Handweavers

For some reason WordPress is playing up this afternoon and won’t allow me to insert Avoca as a live hyperlink but if you want to check out about the business the website is www.avoca.ie/ and the information about the woolen mill that I actually visited can be found when you click on the section about the history of the company.  Basically this is the location where most of the weaving is done (as opposed their main retail outlets dotted all over Ireland) so in addition to the working section some outbuildings have been transformed into a shop to showcase their finished products and there is also a super restaurant/coffee shop filled with the most yummy savoury foods and cookies.  The materials, findings and yarn are only on sale to the public once a year and the prices are AMAZING!!!!!  I scored the most incredible pure wool tweed in a fantastic check colour scheme, incredible value so I obviously just HAD to buy whatever was left on the bolt, 6 1/2 metres @ 5 Euro per metre!  There was also about 3/4 metre which had been damaged in a couple of spots and I was able to get that for 1 Euro, the width is so great that I will have plenty to play around with for felting or use to line a bag, I suspect it will melt into fibre like butter if felted.  My intention is to make (or have made if I could afford to!) curtains, cushions and a bed spread for my main guest room, I think the modern design of the tweed will really update and show off the traditional style of my farmhouse!  I also bought 3 metres of a stunning printed fabric which we thought was a very fine silk chiffon, 141 big funky buttons in various styles (10 cent each), a handfull of colourful zips (in case I ever get into the swing of sewing!) and 26 D rings which I hope to use for some new felt belts as well as an adjustable shoulder strap for a new style of bag I am planning.   I also met up with some of the ‘Wicklow Knitters’ group on Ravelry, hi girls, how brilliant the internet is for bringing like minded people together, amazing!  All in all it was an brilliant day, Alan bought me a gorgeous cream jacket for Valentine’s Day (and I might have bought him something but that is a secret until tomorrow night), it’s too dark now to take any pictures but providing the weather is good in the morning I will be out with the camera and give you a taste of the style Avoca has to offer.

Felting kits for sale in my Etsy store at last!

My first batch of felting kits are finally up for sale in my Etsy store as of this afternoon.  I can’t believe how long it has taken to get to this stage, really I am kicking myself they were not up earlier but truthfully I just seem to have been totally snowed under with other important things as you may have guessed from my recent posts! 

Some of the wool for my new flat felting kits

Each kit contains between 110g and 120g Icelandic wool in mixed colours, a small bag with various embellishments which might include beads, buttons or fancy yarn, bubble wrap and full written instructions on how to make your flat felt masterpiece.  The kits make ideal presents for crafty male and female friends, both adults and children alike.

After Christmas (not going to be too ambitious about the date this time!) I will also be offering nuno felt kits, felt jewellery kits and simple felt vessel kits.  Realistically I need to write up clear instructions for all the tutorials, order in  more silk for the nuno kits, cut out resists for the vessel kits and basically take some good images of each individual kit to upload to Etsy.  The weather has been so bad here recently that I have not been able to take individual shots of the flat felting kits (they kept flying off the table this afternoon in the wind!), at the moment I only have the one photo but in the absence of any others I guess it will just have to do for now!

Weneslydale tops, hand dyed silk laps, matching hand dyed gauze, beads and other bits and bobs!

I had an amazing time yesterday at the Knit and Stitch show in Dublin.  Unfortunately because of my fever I was only able to attend for the last of the four days but from a consumers point of view it was heaven!  Apparantly Thursday and Saturday were manic but Friday and Sunday had plenty of attendees although not so many that you couldn’t get around comfortably.  It was great to catch up with felting friends and give a hand out with a couple of demos at the Feltmakers Ireland stand, the rest of the day was spent relaxing and picking up some gorgeous goodies that are otherwise difficult to find in this rural part of the world. 

My mission for the day was to find and buy only unusual felting supplies and notions that I can experiment and have fun with over the next few months, I didn’t want to be arriving home in the evening saying ‘if only I had bought ….’ which is what happened last year when I left behind some amazing silk laps.   With that in mind first to go into my bag from Oliver Twists were two huge hand dyed silk laps,  hand dyed cotton gauze, cream gauze and an extremely expensive but gorgeous piece of hand dyed silk velvet.  Next I moved on to Art Van Go and bought some discharge paste and a few iridescent Markel paint sticks before picking up some beautiful soft Weneslydale roving from Warren of Craftspun in Naas.  Before a quick pit stop for coffee I stocked up on oodles of beads (some to go in the felting kits) and then had a brilliant discovery at the Woolfish stand, stunning resin pins that make great closures for cowls and wraps, no sewing, yipee!  Louise at Woolfish also had some stunning large hand turned wooden buttons, apparantly the ones that I bought were made from Laburnum and they also smell great.

I’m off now to prepare the first batch of Icelandic wool for sale and hopefully by the morning the rain will have stopped.  I NEED to take some pictures outside where the light is good (my farmhouse windows are very small) in order to get the wool and the kits up on Etsy.  This evening I am also giving a felting demo to some ladies in the ICA (Irish Countrywomens Association) so need to get myself together now and pack the truck before having some food and hitting the road!  ‘Till tomorrow …..

More ramblings from an American road trip and my fibre related finds along the way

Moving on up the coast from Arcata (but not before I bought some gorgeous ceramic beads from Talisman in Eureka) we stayed at a basic but comfortable motel at the edge of Crescent City before heading East through Smith River National Recreation Area and on up into Oregon. 

Stunning Fern Canyon

Stunning Fern Canyon

While in Crescent City we explored some of Redwood National Park including the stunningly beautiful Fern Canyon, part of the Praire Redwoods section of the greater park area.   Passing through Grants Pass we then headed South a little before turning East again and travelling to fascinating and remote Lava Beds National Monument.  On the way we spent one night at Shakespere mad Ashland (I kid you not!) in a gorgeous old hotel on the main street where I had the opportunity to pick up some great buttons and beautiful undyed mohair locks at  a handspinners, weavers and knitters delight called The Web.sters.  I have never felted with pure mohair before so am really looking forward to seeing how it felts when I get home, it feels beautiful and silky to the touch and is in gorgeous natural shades of grey, silver and off white.  We also spent some time chatting (or visiting as you folks say over here) with Alfred Hanan at his brilliant shop ‘Hemporium’, a fantastic place to pick up some stylish, comfortable and natural clothing or accessories and then met Dale Muir in her studio at the Ashland Art Centre.  Dale works with recycled materials creating wonderful funky assemblages which just had to make me smile.  The Art Centre is very interesting, one of many different co-operative type businesses we have encountered along the way and giving me lots to think about for future possibilities back home in Ireland.  We stopped in Ashland for one night before moving on the Tulelake, our base for visiting both Lava Beds and the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges.  Thanks to our Californian Lonely Planet we checked in to Fe’s B&B on 660 Main St., a great choice as Fe and her husband Bob were great hosts and Fe’s delicious hot breakfasts with fresh fruit were healthy, tasty and large setting us up nicely for a day exploring the fascinating scenery and wildlife in the area.    Another nice aspect about the B&B was the fact that guests from the 4 bedrooms joined up together at breakfast and shared tables.  We got to spend some time with an interesting young couple Lizzie and Lawrence from England and had a meal together the second night at Captain Jack’s Stronghold, a surprisingly good restaurant at the side of Hwy 139 a few miles south of Tulelake.  One thing that it is hard to convey to friends at home is how BIG this country is and when you are in more remote regions it could be hundreds of miles between gas stations or anywhere to eat, decent or not! 

Alan among the lava beds

Alan among the lava beds

Both Lava Beds National Monument and Klamath Wildlife Refuges were brilliant stops on our trip.  The volcanic activity over the years has created a fascinating landscape, we did some great walks through the lava beds and and into the caves and were lucky enough to see a young mountain lion on our way back to the B&B on our second night.  The refuges provide habitats for a mind boggling array of birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway and on the second morning we saw a bald eagle from a distance of about 8 feet while driving around one of the auto routes, the best way of viewing the birds as they seem to be less afraid of cars than of us humans!  We intended staying one or two nights at Fe’s but ended up there for three, if ever you are in the area call in and say hi, you won’t be disappointed with the welcome and the brilliant tasty breakfasts!!

Silk, buttons, bits and bobs …..

As well as fantastic scenery and lovely people one of the great pleasures of holidaying in another country is picking up little notions along the way.  Moving on along the coast Alan and I had a great time at Elk beach just a little south of Mendocino and I was lucky enough to find some gorgeous pieces of abalone shell which I am going to incorporate into some felt jewellery when I get home.  I have also been on the look out for small interesting pieces of driftwood and these are plentiful to collect at some of the more wind swept beaches all along this stunning stretch of the coast.  Alan bought a picture called ‘Lemons on the Table’ by Peter Suezek from Sunshine at the Mendocino Arts Centre and also another painting on board at the Arcata Artisans Co-Op.  We have been extremely lucky while staying at the Fairwinds Motel, 1674 G Street here in Arcata that the owner Al Lukiman just happens to be a computer guru who used to work for Warner/Chappell Music.  Al very kindly showed Alan exactly how he can connect to wi-fi wherever we go so hopefully now communicating every couple of days won’t be such a problem as it was before!  As a result Alan has been able to concentrate on a bit of paper work that he needed to get out of the way while I was able to trawl some fantastic fabric and fibre shops here and in Eureka.

Buttons, ribbons, yarn and cowls

Buttons, ribbons, yarn and cowls

Talking you through the image on the left some of my booty from Arcata included hemp twine from the natural store on the square  (sorry there is no name on the receipt and I just can’t remember what the store is called), the gorgeous ram’s head and horn buttons on the bottom left from Fabric Temptations while in Eureka I picked up the fabulous large buttons, the heart buttons and some amazing colours of pure silk ribbons from Heather at the North Coast Knittery, email address info@northcoastknittery.com.  The two cowls are part of my travelling crochet project, the cowl on the left is made from some gorgeous soft merino I received in a Ravely swap while the shell pattern cowl on the right is from the Noro Furisode that I blogged about in the last post.

Busy preparing for last ‘Craft in the Classroom’ sessions

This morning I have had to cancel my proposed training with Failte Ireland in order to concentrate on preparing for my last sessions in the ‘Craft in the Classroom’ project and to finish designing the race card for our Green Party fundraiser this Thursday night.  Because I was so shattered the last time that I drove up to Drumlea early in the morning I have decided to travel up at my leisure this afternoon, spend some time with friends (thanks a million Nigel and Jackie for giving me a bed!) and be bright and bushy tailed tomorrow morning ready for our big session rolling the wall hanging.  My plan is to arrive a couple of hours before I am due to start working with the pupils, wet out the hanging myself and give it a good working over with my sander BEFORE letting the pupils loose rolling, felting and fulling.  The problem is that I always use an electric sander (carefully) not a cordless but obviously would not be able to let the kids use it as it could be constituted as an electrical hazard.  Knowing how much a design can shift if not worked carefully I really want to make sure that the text is fully secure before the pupils start to stamp and kick the rolled up package.  I also need to find some thin but strong cotton cord today that I can use to tie up the large plastic mat that we will be enclosing the wall hanging in, hopefully I can pick some up in a hardware along the way as I travel to Carrick-on-Shannon this afternoon.  I am off now to start packing the truck and hope I will have some great images on Wednesday to post here showing some of the completed projects from our last two sessions including the finished wall hanging.