Opening night

Last night we officially opened Casa Escuela! With friends and family, food and drink, music and fire.

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The day started early, preparing food and decorating the house with our art.

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As our kids got out of school they joined us, adding to the festive feel of the house. Well, I am not sure festive is the right word to describe their running and jumping!

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The evening was great, and we all had lots of fun. We may have ate and drank too much, and definitely laughed till our sides hurt, but it is not every day that you start a new adventure!

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Casa Escuela is close to my mother-in-law’s house, so yesterday I was also able to walk over and visit her. This week she had her third session of chemotherapy. She is feeling a little tired, and experiencing a little hair loss, (and her fingertips feel like she is touching electricity), but overall she is doing well and maintaining a positive attitude. This makes me so happy.

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And in case I needed something else to celebrate, WordPress informed me that yesterday was my four year blog anniversary! What a lot of changes from my first little craft studio to where I am now!

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3er Observatorio Cultural

This is just a quick post to tell everyone what a great time I had at my first craft fair last weekend.

It was the 3rd Observatorio Cultural.  This is a group of artists and crafters using a public space to show and sell their work. The idea is to only sell and display work made by the participants, and not “imported” crafts from other areas.  (Some of the craft fairs here in La Serena sell a lot of imported stuff that is lowering the definition of crafts).

This Encuentro tries to demonstrate the value of hand made objects. We do this during the two days by giving free classes and showing how our products are made.

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That is why I went with my wheel and spent a lot of time spinning!

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There was a lot of lovely people and crafts, and a great atmosphere.

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Many people stopped to ask about spinning and told me stories of their mothers or grandmothers spinning with drop spindles. I think my hand spinning generated a lot of nostalgia.

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I didn’t plan on selling much, (I didn’t have much), but was pleasantly surprised when I did sell some of my woven articles.

There are a lot more photos and videos on the organiser’s facebook page, Creatif, and I hope I will be able to participate again.

A Spanish post – Un post español

Soy inglesa y normalmente escribo mi blog en ingles.  Pero, vivo en Chile, cerca de La Serena, y creo que aveces debo hacer mi blog en español.  Mas que nada para ver si alguien esta interesado en que hago.  Yo trabajo con lana.  Tengo ovejas y lo esquilo yo misma y después hago cosas con la lana.  También trabajo con lana que compro.  En este post voy a incluir “links” a otros posts mios que estan en ingles, pero que muestra mas fotos del tema.

I am English and write most of my blog in English.  However, since I live in Chile, near La Serena, I think I should sometimes do parts of my blog in Spanish.  I am doing this to see if there is interest in what I do amongst Spanish speakers.  I work with wool.  I have sheep and shear them myself, and then I make things with the wool.  I also work with wool that I buy.  In this post I will include links to my other posts that cover each theme in more detail.

Con la lana que compro me gusta hacer cosas de fieltro, como bufondas.  La lana de mis ovejas no es tan buena para hacer fieltro, porque no es tan fina.

Bufandas de fieltro / felted scarves

With the wool that I buy I like to make felted objects, like scarves.  The wool from my sheep is not very good for felting, because it is not as fine.

post de fieltro/ felting post

Para empezar, primero saco la lana de las ovejas esquilando y lo lavo suavemente para sacar algo de la lanolina y suciedad.  Cuando esta seca yo paso la lana por un “wool picker” (que yo hice), que abre la lana y deja caer mas mugre. Luego, paso la lana por mis “hand o drum Carder” para peinar la lana.

Maquina para abrir la lana / machine that opens the wool

Lana sin lavar, lavada, abierto, y dos vellónes peinado/ wool unwashed, washed, picked, and two carded batts

To start I remove the wool from the sheep by shearing and then I gently wash the wool to remove the lanoline and some of the dirt. When the wool is dry I pass it through my home made wool picker, which opens the wool and allows some of the dirt to fall out.  Next, I pass the wool through my hand or drum carder to card the wool.

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post de esquilar/shearing post

post de como hice mi “wool picker”/ how I made a wool picker post

post de cardar/ carding post

Ahora la lana esta lista para hilar.  Yo hilo con husos y ruecas dependiendo de donde estoy.  Los husos yo puedo tomar a todas partes porque son chicas y livianas.

Lana hilada con una rueca/ wool spun on a spinning wheel

Lana hilado a mano/ hand spun wool

Now the wool is ready to be spun.  I spin wool with drop spindles and spinning wheels, depending where I am.  The drop spindles I can take with me anywhere because they are small and light.

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Yo puedo tejer o usar la lana para telares, o yo puedo teñir la lana en mis hornos solares.  Yo teñía con colorante de comida o con plantas naturales.  Mis favoritos son cascara de cebollas, que hace un color naranja y hojas de el árbol nogal, que hace café o verde.

Lana con cascara de palta en el horno solar/ wool with avacado peels in the solar oven

Lana teñida con cascara de palta y cebolla/ wool dyed with avocado and onion skins

I can use the wool to knit or weave, or I can dye the wool in my solar ovens.  I dye with food colouring or natural dyes from plants.  My favourites are onion skins, which give an orange colour and walnut tree leaves, which give brown or green.

post de teñir en hornos solares/ solar dyeing post

Este post es solo una introducción a las diferentes etapas del procesamiento de la lana.  Si alguien esta interesado en algo específico me puede dejar consultas en la sección de comments.

Gracias por la visita!

Lana de mis ovejas/ yarn from my sheep

This post is only an introduction to the different steps in processing wool.  If anyone is interested in something specific you can leave questions in the comment section.

Thanks for visiting!

Solar oven meeting

Last week I participated in a reunion of the Mujeres de Comunidades Rurales para el Uso de la Energía Solar, (Women from rural communities and their use of solar energy), and an exposition by the same group.

This was the second reunion, and it was nice to see some familiar faces and a lot of new ones.  Most of the women were from rural areas and had already participated in government granted projects and owned a solar oven, (like me), or they were hoping to be awarded a grant to build their own.  After listening to speakers we divided into groups by area and introduced ourselves.  Then with the help of professionals, we discussed and presented ideas to develop future projects.

Two days after the meeting we displayed our solar ovens in the Plaza de Armas in La Serena.  We showed how the solar ovens work and the different products that we make with our ovens.  There were jams and preserves, breads and cakes, and I showed my oven dyed wool.  There was a lot of interest by people passing by, as well as the local paper and TV.

Spinning in The Plaza de Armas

I had fun making new friends and sharing ideas with other women who enjoy creating.  I was also nicely surprised by the amount of people interested in hand spinning and wool dyed with natural materials.

Solar dyed wool

For more information, (in Spanish) this is the link of the organisation that builds and teaches solar ovens here in La Serena.

Hornos Solares Chile

Hand spinning classes

I have been thinking a lot about teaching spinning and weaving.  However it is quite a jump to put yourself “out there”, especially when there may not be much demand.  I have two spinning wheels so I could teach someone to spin, but if the students don’t have access to a wheel after class there isn’t much reason to learn.

Starting with a drop spindle may be a better way to go.  Because I think the class should include some wool and a spindle, I have been trying to make a fairly good, cheap spindle.  When I taught the kids at my daughter’s school I used some kebab sticks and potatoes.  I need something a bit better than that! And here are a few of my test models.

Drop spindles

They still need some work, and I found it is hard to drill a straight hole into a piece of wood, (which is important so the spindle spins true!)  I have been testing them and they work better than I expected.

Now I just need to find some students!