Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Behind the Scenes: BRFS Judging

We're in the final countdown to the opening of the Blue Ridge Fiber ShowThe Western North Carolina Fibers/Handweavers Guild BRFS committee has worked hard for two years to make this happen. As Guild president, I had the opportunity to preview the entries and get a behind the scenes peek at judging.

The 2011 show is being held at the North Carolina Arboretum. It will hang in the gallery of their Education Center from October 2 through November 28. This venue offers participants a much wider audience than in the past and we are delighted with this partnership with the Arboretum. Judging for the show took place in the Education Center library.

This year we have three outstanding judges: (from left) Tina Feir for handspinning; Lisa Klakulak for felting, and Daryl Lancaster for weaving.

They collaborated on quite a few awards, and it was so interesting to hear their discussions on several of the pieces.

Judging for handspinning and felting reflects the first expansion of the Show since its conception.  Prior to 2011, it was known as the Blue Ridge Handweaving Show, and focused solely on weaving.  This year the name was changed to the Blue Ridge Fiber Show, reflecting the commitment to include a broader range of fiber arts.

WNCF/HG members from the Guild's Fiber Show committee, were on hand to help as needed. Volunteers for judging included BRFS committee chair Amy Putansu, Charlene St. John, Jean McGrew, Betty Blackerby, Vicki Henson, and Susan Vezina.

The prize winning pieces were then taken to be photographed by Larry Crabtree. Guild members on hand to help with photography were Nancy Crabtree, Mary NicholsEileen Hallman, Sharon Horne, Lynda Feldman, and Bonnie Kelly.

If you're going to be in the Asheville area on Tuesday, October 5, do come to the show's opening reception. It will be held from 2 to 5 at the Education Center. That particular Tuesday is the Arboretum's free day, so it would be a great day to visit the many gardens there as well. I will be there, so please come introduce yourself.  I'd love to meet some of my readers!

If you can't make it for the opening, do come by another day. The Guild will be holding weaving, spinning, and felting demonstrations at the Arboretum for the duration of the show.

If you can't visit at all, the Blue Ridge Fiber Show website will have photos and more information soon.

If you entered something, let me know and I'll be sure to get a photo or two of your piece(s) at the opening reception. I'll be happy to email them to you and post them on my blog as well.

Behind the Scenes: BRFS Judging © September 2010 by Leigh at Leigh's Fiber Journal

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Guild Retreat

The Western North Carolina Fibers/Handweavers Guild had its annual guild retreat today. The turnout wasn't large, but that only seemed to make the event all the more cozy and intimate.

It was a rainy, gloomy day,

but that didn't dampen anyones spirits for kool aide dyeing.

Did you know that the different drink mix brands create different hues?  For example, a green mix in four different brands will give you four different kinds of green.

Two looms were set up for working on baby blankets for Project Linus.

The spinning circle offered a time to visit and chat.

That's my Kromski Minstrel in the lower left corner.  I actually made some progress on my pol-paca! I can't believe I first blogged about it almost two years ago. Most of the yarn I've already spun is still packed away from our move.

Teena joined the circle while working on heddle making.

Walt brought his work with him, one of his custom benches with woven seat. You can see another one here.

The other fun thing we did was to weave our name draft.

Several looms were threaded in an overshot name draft with our Guild's name, Western North Carolina Fibers/Handweavers Guild.

We learned how to draft our own names for the treadling.

I was familiar with the concept, but had never actually woven a name draft before.  Each letter of the alphabet is assigned a shaft number.  We learned how to add shaft numbers in between duplicates.  For example, with my first name (above top), the L, I, G, and H are all assigned to shaft 2.  By adding shaft number 3 between adjacent 2s, I had a weavable draft.

Neighboring shaft numbers were circled in pairs, and the pairs counted to determine the treadling sequence.  Since it is overshot, tabbies were thrown in between each pattern weft. My treadling, without the tabbies, was:

1 - 2, x 2 (shafts 1 and 2 lifted twice)
2 - 3, x 4
1 - 2, x 1
1 - 4, x 1
3 - 4, x 1
2 - 3, x 4
3 - 4, x 5
1 - 4, x 3
reverse (I did add one shot of 1 - 2 here, to avoid the 1 - 4 being treadled 6 times).

Here's my name treadled forward and reverse on the Guild name threading.  As you can see, I chose a space dyed yarn.

Here's a close-up.  It's been almost a year and a half since I've woven anything. When I sat down at the loom I wondered if I'd even remember how!  But it was as though I'd never taken a break.

We really had a lot of fun.

Guild Retreat © September 2010 by Leigh at Leigh's Fiber Journal

Friday, September 03, 2010

A Little Sample Of Llama

I have finally managed to get a little sample of llama fiber from Charlie. I say "finally managed," because I learned very quickly that llamas don't particularly like to be caught and handled. Since I wrote an update about Charlie on my homestead blog, I also wanted to show you his fleece. I figured my sadly neglected fiber blog would be the best place to do that.

His color is not a true black, but rather a very dark chocolate brown. The tips are lighter brown from sunbleaching.  Here's a close-up of his shoulder area (with flash, making the color a bit reddish)....

And hip. The bump in the upper right is his tail...

Off the llama....

I managed to get a couple of staples from his shoulder. While they measures three to six inches in length, this isn't an accurate assessment of a full year's growth. He's only seven months old, and has had one shearing, albeit a poodle type blanket cut. Nor did I cut this close to the skin, but left enough on him so he wouldn't look like he had a patch of missing wool.

Because Charlie's so young, his fleece is wonderfully soft. He was sold to me as a "woolly" llama, and I have since learned that there are several types of llamas, based on their wool.

Tapada llamas are the woolly llamas.  Their fleece in medium to long, dense, and can be silky, crimpy, and wavy. They are considered single coated and should have less than 1% guard hair. They need shearing once a year.

Lanuda llamas, are another woolly type, but these grow wool all the way down their legs. I didn't know enough to ask the breeder about the wool types, but based on how his fleece is growing out, I'm guessing Charlie is one of these. He had his first shearing before I bought him, so I don't' know what he'll look like with his fleece completely grown out. Llamas are shorn once a year, and that will be a job for next spring.

Curaca are medium wooled llamas, with guard hair content averaging 3 to 15%. Unlike tapadas and lanudas, which must be shorn, cucacas shed somewhat. Because of that they are often shorn every two to three years. Their wool grows below their knees like lanadas.

Ccara llamas are the classics. They have fairly short, double coats, the guards accounting for at least 15% of the fleece.  Because of the guard hairs, they don't pick up a lot of debris (which Charlie is always full of). Of course the downy undercoat is what a spinner wants. A ccara's is semi-crimpy and evidently fairly easy to harvest, as only the inner coat sheds. Removing it is a matter of grooming it out. No shearing or clipping required.

Before I got Charlie and began researching this, I didn't have a clue. I had never spun llama before, but now I understand why spinners have such different experiences with it.

Here's a scan on the left.  I don't know how well you can tell, but I'm assuming that the straight fibers are guards. The rest of it has an undefined crimp of about 10 or 11 per inch. His wool will get coarser as he gets older, but how much remains to be seen.

It contains no grease, but is dusty and loaded with VM. This is because llamas like to roll in the dirt, in the grass, in the weeds, in the brambles, whatever.

It kills me to see Charlie loaded with VM and at first, I wanted to comb him out every day. Llamas however, don't like being petted or brushed and combed. I quickly figured out that if I messed with his fleece every time I caught him, he would soon be very difficult to catch. So we've been working on trust, and that means respecting his "no touch" rule. I should mention that this rule appears to apply to humans only. It's okay if a chicken perches on him, of if a goats plops down right beside him. It's just not okay for a human to touch him.

I haven't had a chance to spin it yet, but when I do, I plan to card it and spin woolen. I'm sure though, that I'll do a lot of experimenting with it. I'm very curious as to how the yarn will turn out. Hopefully I'll have a chance to do that soon.

To see photos of Charlie and read what I'm learning about llamas, visit my homestead blog, here.

A Little Sample Of Llama © September 2010