I have a love hate relationship with yarn and fiber dyeing. For YEARS I have talked about dyeing yarn. First it was for Yarntopia and then it was for Yarn Is My Art...it never materialized and what it came down to was I didn’t have a voice to add anything to the already saturated indie dye market. There are so many people out there doing so many lovely things and I didn’t just want to be another fish in that ocean. I vowed that until I had something to offer I wasn’t going to do it.
Then I went to an indigo dye class at Independence Farmstead Fibers. My world was completely changed.
The concept of natural plant dyeing captured my fancy several years ago. In true Sheryl nature I began collecting books and information, just knowing that one day I would do this. Of course real life got in the way and the backyard still looks like this.
The “back forty” as I like to call it. Lots of room there for many things including a dye garden. If it weren’t for the dreaded deed restrictions I’d have a goat and chickens back there as well. I have a plan, so stay tuned for updates.
Back to the dyeing subject. I bought yarn when I thought I wanted to be a yarn dyer and I must do something with it. But I have found that what I love doing is dyeing fiber for spinners and felters. Maybe because I’m so in love with spinning and I love creating fiber for like minded folks. So after this class I investigated dyeing with natural plant based dyes. What I discovered (like most before me) is that the range of colors is somewhat limited especially if the use of alum is something one wants to avoid. So, I did the next best thing. I decided to use Greener Shades dyes.
These dyes are heavy metal free so I don’t have to worry so much about polluting the water system, and Dawn at Independence Farmstead taught me her trick for dealing with leftover dye stock. She mixes only what she is going to use at one time, but, sometimes things happen and all of a color doesn’t get used. So now she has three buckets for the leftover stock, divided by color family: blues & greens, yellows & oranges, reds & pinks. This way she just collects them, reuses them if desired, but the key is she leaves the lids off so the liquid just evaporates and all that is left is a residue that can be wiped out and discarded. Nothing gets poured out anywhere. This is genius and exactly what I will be doing as I begin larger scale dyeing.
The other beautiful thing is that this choice fits right in to my minimalist fiber artist concept. All the colors and a bag of citric acid all fit in a plastic shoe box. Greener Shades has wonderful tools for mixing basic colors to get just the right colors. My choices in powders are limited but the possibilities are endless.
I plan on using these dyes for my fiber dyeing, then as the plants from my dye garden produce flowers, leaves, berries, or roots for dyeing, I will add very limited selections of 100% plant based spinning fiber. I’m excited to see where this goes. I have about 100 lbs of fiber waiting to be dyed (yes I jumped in and bought fiber before I really had a plan), and plan on jumping in soon.
I leave next Wednesday for a week long road trip in which the midway point is Sparta, North Carolina. I am teaching freeform crochet on Sunday June 3rd at the first annual Blue Ridge Fiber Festival. There are still spots available, so if you’re in the area, come visit the festival and take my class!
Keeping on spinning, crocheting, knitting, or whatever makes you happy!
I spent Saturday outdoors, in the heat and humidity that is spring time in Houston, participating in a local artisan market. And this is the reason progress on the minimizing my studio and fiber art supplies ground to a halt for a couple of weeks - or four.
The show is now behind me and I can refocus on my creative space.
I took these pictures this morning. Sad, isn’t it? The dining room/sitting room/library/spinning room/I don’t know what the heck this room should be called has not improved in the past four weeks. In fact the changes involved moving things into the room instead of out! This has always been my favorite room in the house. Several years ago it was a sitting room with books, my favorite chair and ottoman, and so many things I loved. That is what I want to turn it back into, but it deserves a name fitting with its importance; Drawing Room, Gathering Room, Parlour, Lounge, Salon, Withdrawing Room, all have their appeal. I think I like Gathering Room. This is also going to be the space where my granddaughters can hang out when they come over, where we will craft, play games, and just be a family
The pink sofa under the window had been in the living room and we had to make room for our new reclining sofa. The good news is that now that the artisan market is behind me I cleaned out the living room and reorganized so that this space, where I truly live, is visually appealing and not at all cluttered.
As you can see, I have a definite affinity for gray, brown, and metallics such as gold tone and copper. There is still some picture and wall decor rearranging that needs to be done, but the furniture is where it will stay...forever.
So what’s next on my minimalism journey you might ask. My dilemma with a workspace design is that I want my space to look pretty and be functional. One of my favorite magazines is Where Women Create. I can spend hours perusing and dreaming. The same goes for Pinterest. The problem is that in my little 10x11 bedroom space I simply don’t have room for everything and still have the ability to make it look the way I want. The furniture simply won’t fit.
I want the gathering room to be a cozy sitting room filled with my favorite furniture, books and my antique spinning equipment. I view my wheels, drop spindles and my bobbin collection to be utilitarian art. I like having them out and used in my decor. So I decided to use both rooms; the bedroom will be storage, work related stuff like shipping, show prep, and a pet free place to dry yarn and fiber after a dye day. The room will also house my ball winder, drum carder, and blending board. These are all necessary fiber art tools, but not necessarily pretty. Plus, the work that I do in here will be messy. I can close the door and walk away, free to come back at a later time to finish and then clean up. I don’t have to live with it day in and day out. Even if the the shelving is utilitarian I want it to fit with the overall decor of the room. Because I own a few cool pieces of mid century modern furniture, I think I will keep the blonde colored IKEA shelving in there as it will work nicely with an end table, some lamps and a couple of chairs. So, the only piece of furniture that I will buy will be a twin sized sleeper chair. I hope to have my mom come visit and she will need to sleep somewhere besides the recliner.
As I plan the look and feel of the sitting room cozy is the key word. All the furniture in there has personal value to us, but also needs recovering to unify the era and look. I’ll talk more about that when I get ready to send them off. I want pretty book shelves and prefer to find rustic antique pieces to buying RTA (ready to assemble) that has no soul. My fiber art will be on display here as will family photos, crocheted throws, and all my spinning tools. I can spin anywhere, but I want to have the things I love out in the open because they are crucial to who I am and the passion and purpose of my life.
My goal for the week is to move one book case from the gathering room into the studio and get stuff up off the floor and onto the shelves. And that is all I intend on doing because I am working at the speed of life. I have yarn to spin, things to make and business stuff to take care of, not to mention run a household. So, I’m going to live and clean, and create, and enjoy each day to the fullest.
Until next week, be fearless, pursue passion and because the real risk is in doing nothing.
I am on a quest to surround myself only with the things that bring me joy. To use things rather than collect them for future use. To be thoughtful with the materials I use and the things I make and wear. I want to be perfectly clear that this is a personal journey and not any kind of condemnation or judgement on how anyone chooses to live.
I struggle with the amount of yarn, fiber and tools I own that never get used. Will they ever get used? Why do I own them and what value do they add to my life? It is a complex question. Like many, I have regretted getting rid of supplies that I end up needing, thus purchase...again. This has led to a mentality of clinging to stuff “just in case.” I’m drowning. Something needs to change.
I love the concept of minimalism. I love small intimate settings. I also love my stuff. But, do I really love the stuff or am I holding on to things as a form of a security blanket. Am I afraid of trying something new so I cling to the old? I think there is a certain amount of truth to that statement. I feel like I have gone through my life as that person who never finishes anything, who is like a bumblebee jumping from flower to flower. I admire craftsmen and women who devote themselves to a craft and hone it to perfection. I have always wanted to be that person, but somehow I never could sit still long enough. I turned sixty this year. I think it is time. I want to spend the rest of my life enjoying what I have not overwhelmed by piles of stuff. I don’t want my daughter or grandchildren to have to struggle over what to do with the things I held on to. I want them to have a few very precious things to share and cherish.
So what things do I love enough to do over and over? Knit socks, Crochet, spinning on a drop spindle, then creating art and home decor with the two previous skills. That’s it! So that is what I am going to do.
The business side of things will involve teaching crochet and making hand spun yarn on a drop spindle as well as partner with other yarn makers. I love to promote the work of other fiber artists, so I will be designing crochet items using hand dyed yarns from folks whose work inspires me. The sock knitting? Well, that is strictly personal. I adore making and wearing handknit socks.
I’ll leave you today with a video tour of my “studio.” I hope you will follow along as I travel this path towards being a minimalist fiber artist.
If it is March in Texas that can only mean two things Bluebonnets and azaleas. Bluebonnets being the state flower of Texas can be found on any and everything in this state. If you don’t have at least one picture of family members in a field of bluebonnets, then you can’t really call yourself a Texan.
Both of these are my inspiration for the spring 2018 limited edition yarn and fiber coming to the shop on the first day of spring.
I don’t plan on doing a literal interpretation of either one, but I am excited to see how they turn out.
Members of my Flock (newsletter subscribers) will get a sneak peek and a discount coupon good for free shipping on their spring purchase. Be sure you sign up and join the flock so you don’t miss out!
These days, if one so chose, hours could be spent perusing social media looking at the perfection of other’s lives. It is so easy to get caught up in how perfect their life looks and how not perfect my life is. But what is the perfect life? What is perfection?
Lately home decor Instagrammers are posting the behind the scenes look at what the rest of their house looks like, save the small corner that they staged for the photo shoot. Nobody can really live like that all the time. And I am so thankful for this dose of reality. Though I don’t agonize over these kind of details, I do find that all this information makes me rather indecisive in my creative and business decisions. I simply cannot keep up with all the latest trends and I will never be that kind of Pinterest crafter. It is exhausting, and for me doesn’t feel authentic.
I am so blessed to be at a place in my life to be free to do what is truly authentic to me and I am confident that there is an audience for it and there are other like minded folks out there who feel like they craft in the shadows and are looking for any ray of light to shine their way. I want to be that light. Time for my girls, traveling with the hubby and sharing my love for crochet and beautiful yarn, to me this is living the dream.
Whatever your definition of living the dream might be, I pray that at some point you are able to experience the joy found in finding and living it.
It only seems appropriate on Valentine’s Day to talk about the things that I love. My family, friends and my little dog Maggie are obviously the focus of my love. Beyond that...I love wool.
Wool gets a bad rap. Ask the average person on the street for a word that describes wool and more often than not the answer will include words such as “itchy” “scratchy” “hot” or any combination thereof. While those can be true, they don’t have to be. The key is choosing the right breed of wool for the intended purpose. The wool used for a scarf to be worn against sensitive necks is much different than wool intended for a rug.
The kinds of things I like to make with wool are home decor items. Next to skin softness is not as high a priority for me, so I choose my wool for strength and durability. As I continue making home decor items with wool I will add to the reasons why wool makes sense for the home. Until then, consider wool...it is a natural resource and sheep gladly share their fleece with us.
I have changed careers, jobs, businesses, and online personas so many times my friends just smile and figure I’ll be someone new soon. I’m sure there have been bets made on this by folks in my various circles. But I was constantly looking for that “thing.” That certain something that I’m passionate about deep down to my core; that thing that moves me to tears, gives me goosebumps, and that I can’t imagine a day without doing.
After closing the yarn shop I tried a couple more names, logos, color schemes and then decided to just stop. Stop trying to invent and just be. Be who God created me to be. I examined what I loved and loathed about all my careers: nurse, kindergaren teaching assistant, church receptionist and yarn shop owner. I came up with a list that was fairly astonishing. I discovered that I am really good at helping people and I love to know I have made a difference in someone’s life. I have also been endowed with creativity that must be expressed. I feel close to God when I am using the gifts He has given me - yarn and fiber happen to be the medium I use to express myself.
This realization is the seed that sprouted my crochet hearts. I have them in my Etsy shop and everyday I make at least one heart. It is my daily practice. Four of my hearts have gone on to new homes and I pray that they bring as much joy to their new family as they did to me in the creation of them.
There are some events that change and define a place - for better or worse; sometimes both. Hurricane Harvey was one such event.
I have lived in Houston for nearly forty years. In those years we survived Alicia, Allison, Rita, Ike, and Katrina before Harvey paid us a visit. Although all the storms brought anxiety and stress, nothing could prepare us for the fury of Harvey. My family and I were blessed in that, despite evacuating, we were safe and our home survived unscathed. Most of our city and the entire metro area was not so lucky.
Five months later and many people are still living in homes that are not repaired, money is caught up in red tape and healing cannot fully begin.
I belong to an international group of freeform crochet fiber artists who inspire one another and virtually create together. Each year there is a challenge theme and each artist interprets the theme in his or her own way. There was a tie this year so the choice is either “Galaxy” or “Weather.” There was absolutely no question as to what I will explore.
I’ve gone in search of images that I spent days staring at on TV and the internet. Images that strike fear and those that show the resilience and kindness of humanity. I have no idea what my piece will look like, I just know that this is going to be an amazing adventure. We are asked not to post progress of our work until the unveiling of the show sometime in late spring. I will post pictures as soon as I am able. Until then if you are interested in learning more about freeform crochet - do a google search and select to view images. Your mind will be blown.
As 2017 draws to a close, I am so excited for what lies ahead. I’ve never been good at keeping resolutions. I want to do better, I really do. This next year I am going to push myself to do new things; a very scary yet very exciting proposition.
The blog is where I will write about techniques, tips, and anything I think will help you grow as a fiber artist. I like to highlight other folks in the fiber world and help them grow their businesses as well. What else will you find on my website?
The Home page will always be the place to connect with me and find a snapshot of everything I have going on.
The Lookbook will be an every growing journal of my current work. I will explain what I am doing and how I became motivated.
Then there is the shopping. I will slowly be adding merchandise to the shop. There you will find everything from my finished art pieces, to supplies, kits, yarn, and some of the tools and things I love to use in my creative life.
It is my sincere hope that you will find a creative home here and come back often! Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. When you do, you will receive a downloadable PDF with my tips and tricks for making hearts!
Until next time,