Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Class Schedule

I will be teaching wet felting bags tomorrow and nuno felting on Thursday. Both classes will start at 10 a.m. The class size is limited, since it will be in the workshop/garage. Do let me know, if you would like to come.

You may schedule classes for yourselves and friends for other dates.

The shop will have variable hours from Friday thru Monday. I am flying to Maryland and have an intern who will cover some of the hours. I suggest that you call before coming out!

Crochet is big! Check out the hat that was on a sculpture near my booth. I was told that it weighs 50 pounds.

Hats were very popular at the street fair. Since the skein dedicated to the ranch was not likely to sell, it was knitted up into a hat. The band is a coordinating elastic yarn to ensure that the hat stays on. Unique gift designed for a boy. Fits a 22 inch head or smaller.

And the predators are still out there. This bobcat walked by my studio door yesterday about 3:30. It saw me and went under the orange tree next to the the shop door. Huge cat!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

4th Avenue Street Fair Tucson

The shop is packed up and set up at the 4th Avenue already. Michael, my intern, helped Marc haul it all to the booth and we set it up in record time. Do come visit, since this will be my last 4th Avenue Street Fair.

Next Friday-Monday December 16-19, 2011, Marc and I are flying to Maryland to look at properties with acreage, pasture and barns. It is no longer a case of "if" we are going to move, but "when." We have both enjoyed Tucson but feel the need for a change. The predators here have worn me out. It is devastating to walk out and find that animals have been wiped out by coyotes, bit by rattlesnakes, etc. The cost of feed is skyrocketing and I have downsized as far as I am willing. We plan to arrange for all of the animals to be transported. I have some of the very best Merinos and angora goats and don't want to start all over again! My fibers are more suited to a cooler climate. Keep an eye on my blog, so you can come say goodbye before we leave. We are not going to wait for this house to sell. The realtor has politely told me that I have too much "stuff."

Left and Right are the two Great Pyrenees that I bought as guardian animals to be in with the goats and sheep. They are very gentle and curious. They will love having more room to run. They are growing quickly.

One of my friends gave me yellow mums two years ago. My son gave me cranberry colored ones earlier this year. The two plants cross pollinated. Check out the cool colors! Thanks Karen and Kyle!

This batt is a combination of Fillip's first fleece, a Shetland lamb's fleece from this year and a red kid mohair from last year. Super soft and next on my list to spin - after the yarn for the top of the sweater jacket that I am currently designing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tempe Festival of the Arts

Just a reminder that I will be at the Tempe Festival of the Arts tomorrow thru Sunday. The truck is loaded. It is supposed to rain, so I have decided to bring my wheel. I will also set my yarn rack further inside the booth. No sense letting it all get wet!

Hope to see some of you there.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Strange animals in Maryland

We found this cow in a front yard as well as the one below. We were in a town named "North East". That is maybe as bad as my naming our Great Pyrennes "Left" and "Right?"

We did see some more normal looking animals the next day. Howard County Maryland had their Alpaca and Fleece Show while we were there. Most of what I saw was traditional/commercial items produced by Peruvian Connection. I guess most breeders don't have time or have not learned how to process their own fibers. I think that it might have been alpaca fiber only. Too bad they have not diversified into other fibers and blends. It would have been more interesting. I hope to make it to the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival one of these years. There was a rabbit show in one of the barns - they had some cute English angoras. I have to admit that I was not tempted!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In the Air This Time

This is the back of the bolero that I sold in Sacramento. It is a little too big for me, so I am glad that it found a lovely new owner.

Susan Corl is going to be watching the ranch and teaching some classes while I am flying off to Maryland to check out where Marc spends part of his time working.

The shop will be closed Wednesday and will reopen on Thursday. Susan will be teaching a few silk fusion classes (sample above) on Thursday and a Chinese sewing box book making class on Friday from 9:30-3:30. $75 class fee with a $15 materials fee. There is still room in all of her classes. You can email her at susancorl@hotmail.com or call the ranch at 520-572-3758 for more details or to sign up.

I will be home on Sunday.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sacramento Festival of the Arts

The Sacramento Festival of the Arts was supposed to be a working show, but it became an opportunity for my sisters and I to get together. My sister, Nadia (on the left), flew in from Boston and is modeling my Layered Collar. Paula, on the right, lives in the area and is modeling my Southwestern Shawl. I am wearing the Freeform Bolero that I finished last night. Fortunately, Nadia and and another vendor took pictures of the Bolero because it sold half hour later!

The show is always more exciting when my sisters are around. They have had a blast running around talking to other vendors and in some cases rearranging their displays to help their sales. They modeled my designs and attracted a lot of attention to my booth.

My Thick and Thin Dress has been really popular. I wish it were not so hard to make another one - I have too many ideas for new designs, so I don't want to go make another.

I will not be home till November 10, since I plan to visit with my sisters for a few days. I have an appointment on Friday, so do call before coming out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Handspun Freeform Yarns

My sister says that dragonflies are in. This one of two skeins based on this colorway. This one has the dragonflies. Lots of texture, beads and other novelties.

This skein is the same as the one above, shown from the opposite side, so you can see the color variation.

I am heading to Sacramento next Tuesday, so I have to do lots of spinning. I sold enough yarn at the wool festival to be happy and inspired to create more!

Tucson Wool Festival 2011

I thought I would share this link from a visitor who came to the wool festival. You can get another take on the day! She captured a lot of my remarks and some lovely animal photos. http://www.crochetconcupiscence.com/2011/10/tucson-wool-festival/

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tucson Wool Festival Wrap Up

The Wool Festival was a blast this year. Besides there being a lot more people, I was really happy to see that more children came this year. Thanksgiving (the alpaca) was on her best behavior. She is pushy and a spitter. I was amazed to see her cush and let kids pet and rest on her. One of the visitors used my camera to catch scenes from the festival. There were several good shots with visitors. If anyone sees himself in a photo and wants it removed, please let me know. I did want to share. This is Mr. Right with an unshorn doe. I have added Great Pyrenees to the herd to protect against coyote attacks. His sister, Miss Left, is pictured later. They are three month old puppies and won't be real work dogs for at least a year. They have settled in with the kid goats. The doe is in a post below minus hair.

The young Merino ram is still friendly this year. I hope he will be next year, when he is older and the real testosterone has kicked in!

I end every tour talking about angora rabbits. They are the least expensive fiber animal to buy, but their fiber is the most valuable per ounce.

Carole Beakey was one of the new vendors this year. She makes lovely ceramic yarn bowls. She came to me for lessons and found that her true passion is pottery.

Jaculine Harrier Coss is an interior designer and includes pillows among her products. These are all embellished with wool and kid mohair. Each one is superbly planned and unique. Stunning!

These are the older does. I took the photo this morning after the last batch of goats were sheared. 18 of them went to the Arizona State Fair. The doe on the left front won Grand Champion. Her mother, Sweet, is to her right. Sweet is also the mother of the kid who won Reserve Champion. He was beat out by a yearling buck. My buck that won Grand Champion at Del Mar died shortly after his return from a rattlesnake bite, so I did not have a yearling buck to show.

My colored goats were somewhat felted due to monsoon rains. We have a plan to prevent that next year - so they will be champions also. They did very well, but have never done as well as my whites.

The doe above is pitiful looking with out her fleece, but a lot happier.

This is Miss Left. She was worn out this morning after playing in the water. I have had to use smaller buckets for the drinking water since the Great Pyrenees play in the larger water containers. None of the animals want to drink from that!

My State Fair ribbons. Not as impressive as the Del Mar ones, but still worth keeping!

The winner of the Southwestern bag is Sally Vega. She has been called. If I do not hear from her by Saturday, I will draw another name. The proceeds of the raffle - $88 will be donated to the Casa Maria Kitchen of Tucson.

The email drawing winners have been notified and they have made arrangements to pick their prizes up.

The vendors, volunteers and demonstrators were complimented repeatedly on their friendliness and willing to share. I want to thank them again - a wool festival requires a lot of people to be successful. I can't do it all by myself. I also want to thank all of my volunteers - there were enough of them this year that I am afraid to list them and omit someone by mistake. They know who they are! Thanks!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New designs

Kind of cool to win for something that I love to do. Comes with a free booth next year - so you can plan on me being in booth 25 next year.

I spun two freeform yarns. My supply has been seriously reduced by recent shows. These are my favorite yarns, because they make me think. You can't just throw the items in and have them work as a whole.

I have finished the pattern for my dress. It includes a few closeup pictures inside, since words do not adequately convey the assembly. Publishing the pattern means that I have to spin yarn for it although commercial yarns that have elasticity can be used. I am doing a shade of red right now. The side panels will be spun in a shade of natural chocolate Rambouillet. The original dress - which I am keeping - since it fits weighs 8 ounces. The variation in texture makes it. It is one size fits all since the changes in direction of the knitting allow the dress to stretch in all directions.

This is my 500th post. A major milestone?

Look for an article in the Tucson Business Magazine on November 4, 2011. I am being featured as a businesswoman. The photographer is coming to the Wool Festival. Hope to see a lot of you here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Best of Show at Patagonia Fall Arts Festival

This is my booth down at Patagonia. My wheel is not shown, but it is in the right front corner. I am very excited. I will post a photo of my ribbon and plaque tomorrow - I won best of show. I was told that I won because of my gorgeous art and craftsmanship, my customer service, and willingness to demonstrate my craft and educate. I like to show off at all of my shows, as I mentioned in my last blog. I have started using my wheel rather than the drop spindle, because I have lots of upcoming shows (those animals eat a lot and more as it gets colder!) and I have to have a good mix of yarn to sell. The wheel is definitely a lot more attention gathering than the drop spindle.

I still dream about moving to Patagonia. It is a lovely town and the festival has one of the nicest locations that I have been too. I get to choose my booth spot for next year - I am keeping the same one. I get to look out at the mountains as I spin or chat with customers and dream. If you are looking for a fun outing - come down and visit tomorrow. I will find you a chair!

I finished this dress on Thursday - I say this loosely, because I have already decided to crochet a maple leaf to go in the split of the skirt. It looked a lot shorter when I wore it today (this photo was taken yesterday with a different outfit), since I had so many layers on. The panels are all knit in different directions which means the dress/vest will stretch in multiple directions and is truly a one size fits all.

I came up with the idea in Chicago and am happy to have finished it in a timely manner. I hope to finish a sweater jacket next - but, I could get distracted with a new idea!

Forgot to mention that I was featured as the cover story in last Sunday's paper. The goats were featured on the front page of the Home Section and they did a lovely spread on me in the middle. I have the link - not sure that it will work after tomorrow, but if you missed it, I can send

Friday, September 30, 2011

Tucson Expo Quilt Show

Foot traffic is pretty slow at the show, so I am getting lots of spinning done and catching up with friends. I probably recognized 80% as previous visitors to the ranch. I am at the very back of the hall, but I am OK with that, since no one has complained that I have spread out and taken room for two spinning wheels, my skein winder, and a basket of fiber. I would have gone nuts without my wheels. I am spinning freeform yarns since I was down to only 4 after recent shows. The whole front rack that you can see is all yarn spun since the Pasadena Show at the end of July. I do love to spin.

A cameraman from Fox 11 News stopped by to film me spinning this afternoon and he took all of my information. He wants to have a reporter come out and cover the ranch - hopefully before the wool festival - so we can get more publicity. Marc and I will watch the news, but I would not be surprised, if all of the footage (digital of course) ended up on the floor!

I feel like a gallery or a circus act depending on the time of day, but I do think it is worth spinning in public to generate interest in the arts. If you have free time, the quilt show is free and there is enough room for several spinners to set up. You might want to bring a chair. If you want to knit, that would be great also. I forget that not everyone has been exposed to the arts and that those of us who have been are really blessed!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Unexpected Changes

Last Saturday I added two alpacas to my menagerie. Angel and Scarlet are gifts from a friend. They fit right in and are wandering with the rest of the alpacas and llamas.

They are not eating out of my hand yet, but will be soon.

I am working on publicity for the Tucson Wool Festival. The felted bag above will be raffled off during the festival to benefit the Casa Maria Kitchen of Tucson.

I have updated my website to include the new shows (9 over the next few months), class changes and the wool festival page. I also changed my store hours. I will be closing at 4 P.M. effective immediately. Few people come that late, it is getting dark earlier, and I need to start making time for running errands. If I am here, I will open, until the word gets out.

I was first on the waiting list for the Quilt Show at the Tucson Expo Center and was called to say that I got in. I have already loaded the truck and will set up there tomorrow after the THSG guild meeting. I heard about the show too late to get in, so I had to wait for a cancellation.

This morning I went out to feed and discovered that coyotes had attacked and killed all of the geese. The geese have been there over 10 years so it is hard to believe that a pack got past Fillip our llama (he is obviously not doing his job) and dug into the arena area. They carried Ugly our oldest away and chowed down on the others, so I was left to pick up the remains. Needless to say, I am depressed about it.

In order to keep the sheep safe, we herded them into the barn area and fenced them in. The dogs, Shep and Herd, have been moved out to roam the arena. They were really helpful in getting the sheep moved - first time that I have ever used them to herd - and have been very quiet. I expected them to start barking as we left them, but they only barked once a little while ago. They are going to enjoy having the area to run in.

Our organ pipe cactus flowered this week. Those blossoms stayed open less than four hours. Sure hope the insects pollinating them work fast!

Seems like changes are in the air. I am doing more shows and home less, so the Shetland herd is being seriously reduced. 12 are being sold this weekend and the rest will go in mid November. The feed has risen 50% in the past three months and the Shetlands are not producing enough quality fiber to justify keeping them any longer. I am a creature of habit and I hate selling them, but I am running a business and have to be realistic. I am consoling myself with the knowledge that the Merinos are much friendlier and produce five times as much gorgeous wool for almost the same amount of feed. The goats are too precious to sell and have always earned their keep. They are going to the Arizona State Fair the week of October 18th. Tor and Scott of Southwest Acres are going to show them for me. It will be interesting to hear what another judge has to say.

Friday, September 16, 2011

More yarns and new projects

My latest batch of yarns will go in the shop this evening. The green singles will be added to my knitted landscape on large needles, while the two skeins wrapped in figure 8s are for a knitted rug that I have been thinking about for ages. The bag of roving for the rug yarn is on the far right. The skeins look gorgeous, but are incredibly itchy. Perfect for the floor!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Love is in the Air (Breeding Season is here)

I spun 10 ounces of merino for an order. I have gotten the thick and thin down to a science now and it looks gorgeous!

This batch of yarn was last week's production and it is now in the shop.

A gorgeous shade of blue violet for my newest nuno felted shawl. I published a pattern for nuno felting and it is available on my etsy shop. http://www.uniquedesignsbykathy.etsy.com

Marc - this picture is for you. I hate to tell you that you are missing all of the monsoon rain. It is all coming down when I usually feed - making feeding a lot more interesting.

Someone told me that they missed my animal photos, so I caught a few just half hour ago. This guy is fully covered now. He will get sheared next month at the wool festival. His fleece is gorgeous, but not even the best!

Last year I was bottle feeding Dainty and Brazen. They are still the tamest young ones. They thought my camera was a treat. This is Brazen - she was the blue eyed one.

Breeding season is here. This is the buck that I bought at the Del Mar show. He is in love! The weather has cooled and the goats are getting frisky. It is still too early for the sheep.

There is a lot of tail wagging going on. The object of his affections is on the wrong side of the fence. If I did not think my arm would get injured, I would move him to a different pen and try to put her in. Marc and I will spend some of Saturday sorting animals for breeding. The white guy looking back, is interested, but not quite ready - thank goodness! I want to breed the reds to reds this year, so I get red - not white - kids next year!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trip to Chicago and Oddities

Chicago and the surrounding towns are not much different than other towns. The size of the city does allow it to be a little more fashion forward than other places. I saw these shoes in a Nordstrom in Schaumburg, Illinois. I would have bought the white shoes with the abstract lines on them, if they had not been so expensive. I could not see myself wearing them, since they had such a high heel, but I was fascinated by the art that went into them.

Very interesting architecture with the old and not so nice right next to the elaborate.

I was fascinated by the red building that stood out among the more traditional colors.

All of my helpers have to pose with the Headless Wonder at some point - especially, if they go to a show with me. So here is Caitlin. She did a wonderful job of introducing beginners to the drop spindle and selling batts.

Surprisingly, Caitlin and I did not get sick of one another during the four and a half days of driving. We went to Chicago using the southern route and came back by the northern route. We were hoping to vary what we saw, but there were cornfields everywhere. We saw some gorgeous barns and pasture, but we both decided that the Midwest was not for us.

Yesterday, Marc spotted this snake crawling up the Texas mesquite outside the front of our house. I looked online to see what kind of snake it was, but none of the sites were conclusive. This one was heading for the birds' nests. First time I have ever seen a snake in a tree!

I came home with several orders from Stitches Midwest. This one will ship in the morning. It is lovely to be given artistic freedom. Sure makes the spinning go faster!