Monday, December 5, 2011

5th Annual Arkansas Fiberarts Extravaganza in Review

Whew! What a whirlwind weekend at the Arkansas Fiberarts Extravaganza. This year was an entirely new experience as it has been moved to Hot Springs, AR. It was all held in the Convention Center in Horner Hall. It was very nice to have such a roomy space to spread out. With 26 vendors, we really needed it!

We completely took over the Embassy Suites as you can see below.

There were more knitters there this year than in previous ones. Maybe because we had changed locations, who knows? I spent much of my time teaching lots of knitters to spin on a drop spindle. You know, entice them with a new extension hobby. Even if a knitter doesn't want to spin, I think by knowing yarn construction, a knitter will be better able to understand how a yarn will behave. For instance, some knitters find that when they knit a yarn single in continental, it tends to unwind and pull apart. By knowing that it's the twist that holds it together, they may be able to see that the yarn unwinding and is getting unsound and weaker. Then, they can change the way they are knitting to keep the yarn from falling apart.

The knitting contest was a lot of fun to watch. For such a relaxing activity, having them speed it up entertained the heck out of me. Annie Modesitt had entered and won because she really wanted a pair of sassafras earrings. I know the feeling! The fashion show had a wide array of entries from classic shawls and sweaters to works of fiber arts. I saw a really neat nuno felted sari vest that I want to try to make. I just need to get me a sari now.

The Ravelry ice cream party was a hoot! I didn't actually get any of it. The organizers didn't foresee just how many people were going to show up!  Sarah aka onestitchshort
handed out lots of prizes. Near the end, she gave away a lovely bag that I was coveting that had fiber animals all over it. I turned around to tell my friend how I wished I had entered the drawing just to get one of them when Sarah called her name! Color me green with jealousy. I told her to go get Sarah's autograph on the bag. I mean, when else were you going to get an autograph from Sarah?! She did, of course. She deserved such a treat for helping me run the booth all day.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are several more I took at the event.  There are also more on my Flickr page if you want to see what else was there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mid-Ohio Fiber Festival in Review

Hello all! I just got back in from the First Mid-Ohio Fiber Festival in Newark, OH. My mother-in-law and I drove the 17 hour trek to this first time event. Let me just say, there is nothing to see in Indiana along I-64 including gas stations. Make sure to fill up before going through.

 The Reese Center, where the festival took place, was a nice facility. The event organizers even helped us unload and load, which I thought was a lifesaver since I'm usually carrying everything by myself. I really appreciate their hard work in putting this festival together. It was so well done, you would have never thought it was their first year. Great job you all!
  Luckily, I had the absolute joy of sharing space with Elizabeth of Spotted Circus, a fellow Phattie from Indiana. It's always a lot of fun to talk shop with someone in your field and we certianly did that and then some.
Elizabeth raises alpacas and I loved hearing about the animals and adventures of farm living. Her husband designed all the logos, which I thought were fantastic, by the way! She has everything from alpaca roving to handspun, to milk from Moonwood Farms. It's amazing just how we fiber artists are able to put our own spin on our products.

See the logo?! So neat. . .
My own space I filled as much as possible with batts, yarns, fibers, and cards. I wanted an explosion of color, and I think I accomplished that. The big Behemoth Batts were a hit! I think half of them that I had brought are on their way to their new homes. I also fortunately got to meet a lot of people I've only talked to online.

 After festival hours, My mother-in-law, her cousin, and I explored the area. We ate wonderful sushi at on Friday night. My MIL had never eaten sushi before, so it was a real treat to open her eyes to just how delicious it can be when made correctly.

On Saturday night, we had Indian at Bombay Garden Indian Restaurant. It was as authentic as you can get. The cook, a kindly older Indian woman, created the most fantastic dishes. Elizabeth had ordered a Mango Lassi drink that ordered after I saw hers. I simply must obtain a recipe for it as it was the most delicious drink I've had in a while.
 My MIL kept telling us about Longaberer baskets that were in the area. Unfortunately, we didn't arrive during their business hours, but we did take a photograph of the fascinating building. I love interesting architecture and this is something you do not see.

 Well, that's the summary of the fun weekend. It was a long drive and far away from home, but it was worth meeting new friends and seeing new sights. Thank you all that came out and enjoyed the day. I hope to see you all again sometime.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fiber Christmas in July 2011

I've been working the past two days putting away fibers, washing new fiber, and organizing the mess that came home form Fiber Christmas in July. It was an absolutely wonderful weekend.


On Friday, I drove up to Kellyville since I help with the event. We spent the evening laying out tables and chairs in their spots, which isn't easy since those 12' table weigh a ton. Luckily, with all the extra help it went along quickly and we were out by 9.


On Friday morning, vendors starting arriving. It was lovely to see my fiber friends from out of state like Brenda and Mike of Wooden Spinner, Natasha of Gritty Knits, Dominique of Morandia, & Lori of SarahKate Fibers. We spent the whole morning chatting while setting up and checking out the goodies before the crowd arrived. That good thing about Friday is that it's less busy, so we get time to talk with our customers, which I like. A lot of them make it a point to come on Friday to visit, then come back on Saturday to actually shop.

On Saturday, after a goods nights sleep, I spent the day showing newbies how to use a drop spindle, several people how to spin silk caps, and general trouble shooting questions. I loved seeing all the goodies everyone showed me before leaving. While I want customer to buy from my store, I have absolutely no hard feelings when they buy elsewhere. I am not the only great Fiber Artist out there and we all over something unique and different. The buffalo fiber and yarn was to die for, and I was lucky enough to win the Most Creative category in the Christmas Ornament contest which earned me to hanks of Lux buffalo blend yarn!


In the evening, I had the pleasure to teach a wonderful group of women some of my tips and techniques in drum carding. We had new carders and experienced alike, which lead to some most unusual batts. We were all giggling and carding like crazy trying out different fibers and carders. Brenda brought her double wide Mad Batt'r carder to play with and like me have the pleasure to try out. Of the two batts we got off, the first one weighed in at 7.75 oz and the second was 5.5 oz. I loved it so much, I've ordered one with the proceeds from the class. Thank you all! I wouldn't have been able to afford one of these babies without them. Fiber Artists can be the most genuine and fun people around.

Mega Batt


After packing up I helped Kate and her husband of Lowder Colours Farms herd some sheep to be taken to market. I'm definitely not a wuss about getting dirty, which I illustrated since the only shoes I had on my were my wedge heels. It was comical herding them into the trailer. I had to hose the shoes and wash them once I got home, but I wouldn't have missed the opportunity for anything. Everyday life for a shepherdess, once in a blue moon for me. What I do wouldn't be possible without them.

There are, of course more photos available to see of the event on the Fiber Christmas in July Flickr group if you want to see more of the fun we had.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Solar Dyeing Silk

It's one of those days, as it has been for the past month, that the blazing hot sun heats to concrete making shoes necessary just to check the mail since it will blister your soles. With 104 degree temperatures every day, I have to do all I can to keep the house at a cool 78 degrees. I have all the windows drawn with blinds and curtains. Lights off, and no extra cooking. It's sad when a cold shower sounds refreshing.

So with all this heat, I decided to dye up some silk caps I just got in the mail. What more can I ask for? Silk. . check. Dye. . . check. Heat source. . . quadruple check. I know a lot of artists get the big pots out with thermometers to check the right temperature. As an Artist, however, I'm not inclined to do things too scientifically. Yes, I have a degree based in science. You wouldn't believe how many chemical structures come to mind when I think of alcohol alone. I always loved to figure out how things work.

However, I am a emotional being. I am creative. I refuse to let my job become just that. I don't want to "burn out" as many do. I am a Fiber Artist by choice. I wish I could say I make a ton of money and travel the nation in luxury. Truthfully, my earnings go right back into the business. I buy supplies, pay for advertising, rent booths, pay taxes; all things you must do to run a business. It's not always fun, but it's mine.

That being said, I went around gathering supplies; food jars, silk, dyes, etc. . . As I filled my first jar with dye and water, a funny sound sputtered from the sink. Oh no! There's wasn't any water. After checking the news, I found that a water main had ruptured. Boo, I had jars with dye laid out to fill. So, I took a break and hop onto the computer to wait it out. Lo and behold, Ester of Jazzy Turtle Creations is working on the same thing! You can check out her blog at on solar dyeing. It was nice to see that I'm not the only one with this idea today, in the blazes of summer. It's as though, through all this, there was some camaraderie between the Fiber Artists.

Eventually, the water returned; the jars filled and laid out. So there they sit, cooking in the sun. I went out to take some pictures and burned my knees kneeling on the ground. Split seconds have given my 2nd degree burns. Yowzers! That's hot! I took a couple of good shots before having to return to my air conditioned haven.

So enjoy the process, have a smile on me. It's the simple beauty of solar dyeing that keeps me chugging on.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spinning Batts Video including a Spinning Cuff Pattern

Spinning batts are a joy! I've been spinning several years now, and it amazes me how many spinners avoid batts because they are intimidated by them. Instead of writing it all down, I've created a video to show you. Enjoy!

Here's a simple pattern for a wrist cuff made using some scrap superbulky handspun yarn. It's best to use something soft and with a lot of texture, so that when you wrap you roving around your wrist, it doesn't slide around and fall off.

One Size

Height: 4 inches
Circumference: 8 inches

~10 yards Superbulky Handspun
1 set US size 13 circular needles
Crochet Hook to weave in ends


CO 22 sts
Join to knit in the round, place marker at beginning of round
Knit 8 rounds
On next round, K1, K2tog, Knit to end of round.
Knit 4 more round.
On next round, K10, K2tog, Knit to end of round.
Knit 2 more rounds.
Bind off loosely and weave in tails.

Copyright 2011. Dawn L.E. Riden. These patterns are for personal and non-profit use only. You may not sell items made from these patterns. You may make them for yourself, as gifts, or for donation to charity sales or auctions. And these patterns love being used for knitalongs or other organized knitting events that are free of charge.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oklahoma Blizzard 2011 Knitting

It's actually been a pretty mild winter until this last week and a half. My little town has been frozen over several times with layers and layers of sleet, snow, and ice. Unlike previous years, we haven't lost electricity or trees due to the weight of the snow. I count us lucky.

So, in all the time we've been stuck at home, we all have been passing around colds. Stuffy noses, low grade temps, and general yuckiness. No fun. So, here we are, cold, locked inside, and not feeling well. What better time to attack those works in progress!

This corset top by Annie Modesitt has been on my mind for quite some time. Last year, for Tour de fleece, I actually hand spun the yarn to complete it. The yarn suggested is a pure Regal silk that comes at a hefty $24 a hank, far beyond my means. I had purchased some gorgeous and soft Bamboo/superwash Merino wool previously that I hadn't used. It was perfect for this: soft, shiny, and with good weight. I spun the yarn into a worsted weight single and put in in the yarn cabinet where it didn't see the light of day for six months.

Fast forward to January. . . 

After many months of sitting on it, I finally pulled out the pattern and wound the yarns into balls to attempt the pattern. I looked online in the threads on Ravelry for any hints and tips concerning the pattern. There were several such as it tends to be smaller than indicated and to make sure you gauge it.

I did however mess up in the initial lace pattern. Instead of doing a reverse stockinette, I accidentally did regular stockinette which made the edges curls away from my shoulders. I'm not one to rip out, especially that far into the project, so in the end, I just crocheted along the edge to stabilize it. You wouldn't know that is not the way it's suppose to look unless I told you. I was surprised by how quickly I knit it up with all the ribbing, lace, and cables. The finished top is stunning!

The next project that I hadn't worked on in a long time was my Peacock Feathers Shawl by Dorothy Siemen. I had originally spun the yarn for this beauty in 2009 out of a beautiful sapphire wool/mohair blend. I began knitting it in October 2009. I knit on it off and on for months before realizing that I didn't spin enough to finish it. Disheartened, I actually stuffed it in the back of the yarn cabinet. There it sat for months again. (See a pattern here?) Once again, after finishing the corset top, I found myself pulling out the shawl to try and finish. Since I couldn't complete the pattern in it's entirety, I finished as much as I could and substituted the original edge for a feather and fan pattern interlaced with bronze/copper beads to make the blue pop! I know it's hard to see in the photos, but all 1400 beads are there. Yes, I counted as I was stringing them on.

I really love this shawl and have worn it everyday since finishing it. It's not too hot, nor cold; big enough to wrap around myself entirely. It's the most stunning shawl I've knit to date. 

One of the last things I've been working on are a pair of mittens for my 6 year old son. We had gone outside when it wasn't so windy to attempt to build a snowman, failing miserable. I had on a pair of mittens that I had made recently. I noticed just how well they kept my hands warms and dry. My boys, however, had the cheap $1 acrylic gloves from Walmart. Safe to say, they didn't handle the snow as well with their little fingers getting soaked and turning blue. Right then, I told myself I was going to knit them all a pair.

Once we got back inside, I pulled out some of the first yarn I ever spun and started chugging away using a very basic pattern. He actually came over at one point sadly saying, "They're white." I laughed at his tone. I know he wouldn't want white gloves, but I had this planned out you see. I told him that yes they are white now, but when I'm done knitting them, we can dye them whatever color he wants. That immediately perked him up and he went skipping away, only to return every so often to see how far along I've gotten. He's too cute. I'm almost done, but I still have the thumb and decrease on the top of the mitten to go.

So, here we are again. Snowed in. Cold. Must finish this Classic pair of mittens, so I may start the next for my little girl. I have the perfect handspun for it. I just need to finished these.

Stay warm everyone!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Roc Day 2011

Per Wikipedia:
Distaff Day, also called Roc Day, is 7 January, the day after the feast of the Epiphany. It is also known as Saint Distaff's Day, since it was not really a holiday at all. In many European cultural traditions, women resumed their household work after the twelve days of Christmas. The distaff, or rock, used in spinning was the medieval symbol of women's work. Often the men and women would play pranks on each other during this day, as was written by Robert Herrick in his poem "Saint Distaffs day, or the Morrow After Twelfth Day" which appears in his Hesperides.
Some modern craft groups have taken up the celebration of Distaff day as part of their new year celebrations.
This is the second year I've celebrated Roc Day. This year, on a whim, I was talking with some of my spinning friends on Moonwood Farms Ravelry group about Roc Day, and we all decided it would be fun to exchange different fibers to spin for Roc Day. Little did I know it would blow up into a full-fledged spinning dance with fibers ranging from wolf, bison, possum, and lint!

I decided to use my samples as a study of fibers. I divided them into three groups: natural, fun, and colored. I know, not that scientific, huh?

WARNING: If you are allergic to any animal, do not touch this if you see it in public!

Group One:

First, I took all the natural animal/processed fiber and lined them up by texture. I kept like-textures together (bamboo/silk/corn, wool/bison/alpaca), then mixed up the colors so that similar colors wouldn't be next together. I spun these into a dk-worsted weight single. It was interesting going from one fiber to another. Many of the fibers I had spun previously and knew what to expect. So, let me hit the unusual ones.

I was pleasantly surprised by how soft the yak down way, though it's staple length was very short. It was almost like spinning cotton, but a little easier.

The Swaledale, Merino, Possum didn't really catch my eye when spinning, besides the guard hairs were prominent. Upon knitting them however, I found it to feel and look just like new household carpets. After looking up the Swaledale sheep, I found out that their wool is indeed used for carpet making.

The hank came out looking pretty unassuming as you can see. That's the beauty of something like this, it's when it's knit up that the true beauty id shown. I grabbed a set of 9 and went at knitting up a simple triangular shawl. Nothing fancy because I wanted to fiber to be the showcase, not the pattern.

I actually used some creative stitch markers I had swapped from As you probably know, I have a thing for steampunk and these beauties pulled at me to take them. A knitter can never have too many stitch markers!

The fibers include (from top to bottom):
Ingeo (corn)
Tibetian Yak Down
Dark Grey Carbonized Bamboo
Dark Brown Bison
Creamy Tan Camel/Tussah Silk
White Cotswold
White Angora Rabbit
Black/White Shetland
White Shetland
Brown & Blue Alpaca/Cat
Haucya Alpaca
Alpaca & Wool
Grey Wensleydale
White Wolf
Grey European Karakul
And finally White/Cream French Angora from my own rabbits