Tuesday, March 29, 2011

the earth sings

Sometimes, I study.

The Internet is such an amazing research tool. In an instant, I can locate the areas of my interest and access obscure materials, that years ago would have taken so long to obtain, if I even knew about them.

I really enjoy reading and learning about the history of certain things. .... Gardening, Flax, Spinning, and my own personal genealogy.

When I find a book, a video, or just a simple article that includes all of these things in one package, I get inspired. It is a good feeling when everything connects.

Karol Plicka directed a film in 1933. It was called zem spieva, The Earth Sings. When I watched it, it stirred up something deep inside of me. I watched the women work the flax, I thought of my great grandmother...and it made my heart sing.

The original film clip can be found here.

Besides showing the processing of flax, the film is a great piece of ethnography. I found two other clips from the 60 minute movie, that covers some customs and traditions. There are images of the Kroje as well..I can only imagine how things would look in color!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

perigee spring


Spring arrives with a perigee moon this year. They tell me it is the largest full moon we have had in the last 18 years. Supermoon. The full moon of March has other names...Sap Moon, Worm Moon, Crow Moon... to name a few.

I have finished my spin-to-knit-along cowl...details here...


...and even though the calendar says it is spring, there is still some snow in the forecast later this week.


The cowl will be cozy around my neck as I begin to rake the garden and prune the fruit trees and berry bushes. There are promises to uncover, the buds are starting to show, and another season turns.


Sunday, March 06, 2011

mapaca jubilee


Several weeks ago I was invited by Alan Clark, MAPACA president, to be part of the 2011 MAPACA Jubilee Celebration! It is my great pleasure to be able to attend as one of the hand-spinners that will be demonstrating how to prepare and spin the fleece of these wonderful creatures.

The Mapaca Jubilee runs from April 8-10 and is open to the public. There are all sorts of events for everyone! I am excited about going! The Jubilee will be held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex 2300 North Cameron Street Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Since I have never attended an alpaca show, I wanted to get an idea of what the MAPACA Jubilee is all about. I decided to ask Trish Tyler-Davis. Trish is wearing many hats these days, one of which is the Hospitality Coordinator for the MAPACA Jubilee. Although she is quite busy, she was generous with her time and answered all of my questions. She even agreed to let me share them with you here. Thanks Trish!

me: So, Trish...what IS MAPACA Jubilee all about?

Trish: MaPaca is a cooperative group of alpaca breeders in the Mid-Atlantic states. The Jubilee is held annually in the spring and includes mini-seminars, guest speakers, vendors, a fleece show, and of course many beautiful alpacas. They really are lot of fun!


me: And what is the focus of this years Jubilee?

Trish: This year marks the 15th Anniversary of this alpaca show which is one of the largest and most hightly respected alpaca shows in the United States. North American Alpaca Fiber is beautiful, and one of our goals for this show is to connect the producers of this wonderful fiber with the end users. We are striving to promote networking between the owners /breeders and the fiber community.

Check the website under Mundo “Fibra!” Here you will find all things related to alpaca fiber… the fleece show, spin-off display, fiber demonstrations, our first Fleece-to-Shawl competition, and the debut of the MaPaca Member Product Store. We’re increasing our focus on fiber with this year’s show, so you will find this feature at the public entrance to the Expo Hall. Since we are advertising heavily in fiber-related media, we expect to see a surge of fiber enthusiasts to see what we alpaca fiber producers have been up to.


me: Do you ever feature any special events or workshops?

Trish: Yes! You can visit the website and view the Schedule of Events which lists the time, date and location of our seminars and demonstrations.

We will have a book signing by Intarsia Knitter Peggy Gaffney...

Agate Olek will be crocheting...

There will be weaving with – Deb Potts-Reagan

and drop Spindle Spinning will be demonstrated by Sandy Roberts...

and of course, you will be demonstrating fiber prep and wheel spinning!


me: Well, what about the Alpacas? How many Alpacas come to the Jubilee?

Trish: This year we host over 800 beautiful registered Alpacas that will be there with their owners. These participants are interested in promoting their farms and their fiber, and they are some of the most outgoing, interesting and pleasent people to meet with. They are more than happy to talk with the public and answer whatever questions you might have about their animals and their fiber.

(I saved the most important question for last...)

me: So, will there be fiber available to purchase?

Trish: Absolutely! You can shop in the vendor village, and this year the Jubilee will feature our own MAPACA Member Product Store, where you will be able to purchase the home grown alpaca products in every stage of processing, from fleece to roving and batts to yarn and finished alpaca products...The MAPACA Member Product Store is really a wonderful showcase that demonstrate what is done with Alpaca fiber!

If you have any questions for Trish, you can email her trishtylerdavis@verizon.net

So, I'd like to invite you to come and attend the Jubilee too! Please stop by and say hello, I'll be demonstrating how to prepare and spin Alpaca fiber from lock formation, to roving.... on the Antique Great Wheel as well as the more modern Ashford Traditional Wheel and even on my Russian Style Supported Spindle. My demonstrations will be informal and ongoing, so there will be lots of time for Q & A. I hope to meet you there!

Friday, March 04, 2011

crocus skal cowl

A few weeks ago, I was invited to become a moderator for the We Love North American Alpaca Group on Ravelry. Being that ILNAA ~it was hard to say no.

A few days ago, the group started a March- Spin- to- Knit- Along. The plan is to spin your alpaca, or a blend thereof, and knit it into a cowl during the month of March. The pattern is designed by Ami Madison. The group plans to discuss their on going projects throughout the month, and address any success or failure. The idea here is collective knowledge...learning some tips and/or skills from each other in order to add to an individuals existing repertoire.

Personally, the SKAL is a good exercise for me. It is helping me to plan for a project..working it from the fiber to finish. There are many times when a spinner can select, from her stash, the perfect yarn for a project. For this exercise, I have selected a pattern and I am attempting to spin a certain type of yarn to be used for it.

The fiber I am using is composed from "seconds"..the shorter and second best bits of a fleece.


The seconds were dyed with Jacquard Acid dyes. When I started to sample, I blended directly on the hand cards, but have since moved on to blending one color at a time and taking small bits of each color to spin sequentially. Tufts of "short cuts" or felted slubs were allowed to remain in my singles. The singles were plied and the color runs were sometimes equal with slight overlap and some barber-pole stripes.


When I selected my colors, I had visions of purple and yellow crocus on a spring green lawn...and when I look at my results..well...not so much! I had not planned on so much pooling ...


However, the cowl..(so far)..does have a redeeming factor...it is made with Alpaca! And the texture of the yarn is slubby and soft. The seconds have behaved as I hoped they would, and I have a nice lumpy lopi yarn of approx 9-12 wpi. There is success with the yarn, but not the dye. So, there is always the choice- or possibility- of another trip to the dye pot.


What say you? Shall I toss it into another cauldron?

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