Thursday, 5 September 2013

Crazy Crafting

 I have been crazy crafting these last couple of weeks!  First of all I need to share about our visit to see our lovely friends Lyle & Kirsten.  They live on an acreage near Ponoka which is a fair distance from us.  This is unfortunate, because we don't get to see them as often as we would like.  We drove up to see them this past weekend and a fabulous time was had by all.  While the guys were busy mountain biking in Red Deer, Kirsten and I decided to get creative.

First of all she taught me how to make cold process soap, which I thoroughly enjoyed!  The little bar on the left is sporting one of her soap tags, but was mixed from scratch and poured by me.  Of course I loved it so much that I now have some soap making supplies on the way to me so that I can make more in future.  Her recipe is wonderful.  I love the lather on the soap and it does a great job of moisturizing the skin.  It's fragrance and dye free, and contains minimal ingredients.  I think it's fabulous! 

 After we finished making our soap, we decided to try some fabric dyeing.  We wanted to experiment with batik dyeing which uses a wax resist and fiber reactive dyes.  We mixed up the dyes, and melted some wax on a hot plate in a double boiler set up.  Kirsten had cut some forms out of foam, and we used those and paint brushes to add the wax to our fabric.  Since we were just experimenting we used old white sheets and tea towels to see what would happen.  Kirsten tacked up an old crib sheet between two saw horses that we were supposed to share, but I was having so much fun that she let me have at it like a canvas.  All the white bits are where I applied wax, I also did a bit of tie dyeing and painted on the rest of the colour.  While I was preoccupied with this portion, Kirsten was going crazy with the foam stamps on some of the other fabric.  Below I have a shot of her next to our dye table with all of our premixed colours.  To the right is a picture of our fabrics drying with their first layers of colour.

 Unfortunately, I forgot to get some pictures of the finished works!  We had a lot of fun, but some of the sheets had some heavy amounts of wax on them and it was difficult to remove.  Lessons were learned and we now have a list of do's & don'ts.  I'm sure we will get even better results the next time we try this!

In exchange for my lessons in soap making I spent some time teaching Kirsten how to spin, and despite exhaustion from the activities of the day we managed to each finish a skein of yarn.  Kirsten's was a thick and thin two ply which I don't have a photo of, and mine is a three ply fingering weight yarn that I have had on the wheel for several months waiting to get finished.  It felt good to get it completed.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and we returned home.  However, I felt inspired and over the past few days I got some canning done and also got adventurous and completed my first quilting project.  I have found myself sewing a lot more lately than I ever have.  I was sharing with Kevin yesterday that I really like the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing something with my own two hands regardless of the craft.  It's nice to be able to sit back and say "I made this!"  My wonderful grandmother passed away at the end of June, and as strange as it might sound, I like to believe that she is channeling her passion for sewing through me.  I feel as though she is close to me when I am at my sewing machine, and it is a comforting feeling.  This week, I finished my first quilting project.  It's a little Halloween centerpiece.  However, I am thinking I might use it as a wall hanging and put it in my cubicle at work for the coming holiday.  It's a first attempt at this craft, and I know that everything doesn't line up the way it should, but I am incredibly happy with this little piece and look forward to maybe trying some other quilting pieces in future.

  As for the canning, I ended up doing some pickling.  These are my first batch of pickled anything!  My husband wanted pickled beans with habaneros.  The beans were being sold by one of the local hutterite colonies and looked lovely, so I got them as I hadn't grown any this year.  The habaneros were our own.  This is the first year we have had a really great crop of them.  I used them in my salsa this year, and Kevin likes to add them to our breakfast skillets.  They are also great in jambalaya recipes!  They are pretty easy to grow and just require some good sun and heat.  I look forward to growing more of them next year.

Well, that's about all I have to share at this time.  I think I need to do posts a little more frequently so that I don't end up trying to squish so much into the few that I do get done.  I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures in crafting, and hopefully it may inspire you to try and do something that you've always wanted to!

Take Care & Happy Crafting!

Friday, 30 August 2013

It's Back!!

Welcome back to the third installment of THE BIG BANGERINO CLUB!!

You all voted and based on your input, club has gone back to being offered on a month to month basis!  Club bases will vary and we will have some new blends this year, but the majority of them will have a merino base in keeping with club tradition from years past!  Thank you to everyone who offered feedback for this years club!  For those folks who are new to The Big Bangerino Club come join us on Ravelry for updates, contests, chatter & more! Ravelry - Big Bangerino Club 

Big Bang Theory Season 7 Premiere is titled "The Hofstadter Insufficiency."  The episode has Leonard on the North Sea for a scientific expedition while Sheldon and Penny are left at home to cope without him.  Club for October is themed after this episode.

Club Memberships will be available from now until September 26th (Season Premiere Airing) or until all memberships for the month are sold out. Orders will be shipped out no later than October 15, 2013.

About the Club:
The Big Bangerino Club is for all folks who love the TV show "The Big Bang Theory." Each month The Wacky Windmill will be offering a Big Bang related colourway.  Club orders are on a first come first serve basis.  Anyone can order as long as the listing is active.  There are however a limited number of listings available so be sure and get yours while quantities last!!

Club is offered from October 2013 - May 2014.  Each month a new base will be available with it's own SWAG with a theme related to the show.  It could be from a recent episode or inspired by a past favourite.  Additional fibre/yarn may be purchased at the same time if you are wanting a larger quantity.

I look forward to playing along with all of you this year & hope you enjoy taking part.

Happy Crafting!!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

First Annual Guild Retreat

April 26th, 27th, and 28th marked the first annual guild retreat for the Crocus Country Fibre Arts Guild.  The majority of guild members were able to attend and we had a great venue given that we were able to spend the weekend at the beautiful North Bow Lodge.  The lodge overlooks the Bow River and is located just outside of Calgary, AB.  The owners Michele and Stu Wheeler were fabulous hosts providing us with comfortable beds, a homey atmosphere, and wonderful food.  Our guild had the entire place to ourselves for the weekend with the freedom to engage in any crafty endeavors that appealed to us.   The weather over the weekend was windy but was also warm and sunny and we were able to take the opportunity to go on some really nice walks along the river with deer wandering nearby, and a variety of birds as well.

Folks brought spinning wheels, weaving supplies, knitting, dye supplies, blending board, drum carders, swifts, ball winders, rug hook supplies and of course projects in varying stages of completion.  Friday evening we all picked out our bedrooms, set up shop and enjoyed a yummy supper prepared by Michele.  Lenora was kind enough to bring a selection of non alcohol and alcohol based wines and gave us a fun and informative wine tasting lesson.  We got to learn about food pairing and tried out some lovely red and white wines.

Saturday morning we woke up at our leisure and enjoyed our coffees.  We had a nice continental breakfast and had a great time visiting and working on various fibre arts throughout the day.  Dianne brought a blending board and a wonderful bag of merino fibre contributed by Cal from Shuttleworks. Lots of us took the opportunity to try it out, and I was able to produce a small skein of yarn as a result.

 Susan had her daughter Cori come down to instruct an outdoor yoga class to work out our kinks, and she was able to join us for a couple meals and some cross stitch too!  Christa & Lenora brought dye supplies and we were able to do some dyeing with acid dyes as well as some natural dye products.  I had the chance to dye up some finn fibre that I brought with me and ended up with a very pretty light yellow from tree moss and a light fawn colour achieved from walnut husks.  I ended up blending the two together to create some really beautiful batts that I'm looking forward to spinning up!

 It was wonderful to have so many activities to choose from and so many wonderful and talented ladies to share knowledge and ideas with.  Theresa got to expand her knowledge and skill when she was given a spinning lesson by Christa and Cheryl.  Unfortunately she decided that this was not her cup of tea but did later discover that she really enjoyed needle felting and joined Dianne as both of them worked on felted creatures!

I also ended up completing two projects I had in the works, one of which was a gradient yarn that I spun from a Bullseye Bump from Steph of Loop on etsy.  Steph makes beautiful centre pull fibre bumps that I love spinning and I am so happy with the finished yarn.

 I also completed a small shawlette that I was working on called Age of Brass and Steam which is a free download on Ravelry for anyone who is interested.   It is knit up from some of my handspun that came from a gorgeous braid from one of my favorite dyers Julie Spins.  A very easy pattern that results in a great shawlette that can be any size you want it to be!

 Sunday morning arrived and we again had a wonderfully lazy morning and were later treated to a delicious hot breakfast.  Some of us completed projects while others had to pack up and leave early.  Most of us were packed up by early afternoon, and sadly the weekend came to a close.  Overall, I found the weekend to be a wonderful experience which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Much thanks and appreciation to all who helped to arrange the weekend, especially Alice who picked the location and made most of the arrangements for us.  I look forward to next year!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Month of Love Draw!

Since February is all about hearts and love I thought I would share the love and have a special little draw this month!  In addition to all my handspun and hand dyed yarns and fibre I am also an authorized retailer for HiyaHiya, Soak, and now LavaShea lotion bars! The package featured above is worth $30 and could be yours if you take part in the draw.

The rules are simple.  For the month of February every order placed with the shop will count as an entry in the draw.  All you need to do is post the date of your order and what it is that you purchased in this thread on my Ravelry Group. Items made from Wacky Windmill yarns and fibres also qualify for the draw if you complete them in the month of February!

If you are not on Ravelry then I would encourage you to join!  It is free and is a wonderful social media group.  To be honest, I spend more time on Ravelry than any other social media site, simply due to the fact that it is so user friendly and has a very positive atmosphere.  Ravelry is also a fabulous source of patterns, ideas, and resources for knitters, crocheters, weavers and spinners!

In addition to being entered into The Wacky Windmill draw, purchases from the shop also qualify for entry into the Fiber Indie eXperience Co-op monthly draw.  The FIX prize for February is a $50 gift certificate which can be used at any of the 10 participating shops!  Qualifying shops are listed at the top of the prize entry thread.

This affords you two possible prize winning opportunities!  Head over to the The Wacky Windmill now for your chance to win!!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Knit & Ski Steamboat

So I have recently returned from a great trip to Steamboat, Colorado.  The weather was beautiful, the town was charming, and I was privileged to learn a boatload about knitting.  One thing I love about the fibre arts is that there is always so much to learn.  I feel like I could spend a lifetime acquiring new knowledge and building on my skills. 

Knit & Ski Steamboat was an event that was coordinated by Craft Cruises and I enjoyed every moment of it.  Not only did I get to meet a variety of other knitters, but I had the opportunity to meet some wonderful knit wear designers & instructors. 

In attendance for the week were Galina Khmeleva, Ann Budd, Cat Bordhi, and Lucy Neatby.  All of these ladies are so talented and are a wealth of information.  I had the opportunity to take classes with both Galina and Ann and found them to be a pleasure to work with.  Galina is a treasure trove of information on Orenburg lace as well as Russian history and culture.  It was fun to learn the origins of Orenburg lace, as well as practise constructing some of the motifs used to construct these beautiful shawls.  Ann was one of the most genuine and modest individuals I met on this trip, and her passion for knitting, (as well as for clean edges in sweater construction) was very apparent.  I feel like I learnt a lot about sweater design and construction and definitely feel much more confident in undertaking a sweater project in future.  If you ever have the chance to take a class with either of these talented women, I would highly recommend it!  I also enjoyed meeting both Cat and Lucy and found them to be fun, and interesting and look forward to future opportunities to take classes with them as well.

In addition to the classes, there was an artisan market with yarns, and handmade items from all sorts of local producers.  I ended up getting myself a warm and cozy set of mittens from a lovely lady who makes them from upcycled sweaters.  They are fabulous!

On my last day of the trip I had sunny weather and a nice day on the local ski hill.  Below is a photo I took looking down on the town from the hill.  It was a gorgeous view and I could not resist. 

All in all it was a very worthwhile trip and I had a great time!  I'm hoping I will be able to take part in a future adventure with Craft Cruises and really look forward to the time that I can!

Take Care & Happy Crafting!