Being in the right place

When I drive to my daughter’s school I pass the La Serena Airport. The road parallels the runway and sometimes we see planes landing or taking off. Also this road is driven by many impatient idiots who think it is actually a racing track, and overtaking will get them to their destination faster and not killed.

So after a near miss by one of these race-car drivers in the morning, I was edgy driving to my daughter’s school to pick them up. As I approached the airport a shadow came over me, (literally, not metaphorically) and an Airbus came in to land. It flew alongside me, bigger and faster than me, and with Coldplay on the radio it was quite something. And if that wasn’t enough, a jogger running towards me, stretched out his arms wide, smiling, in what looked like pure joy. It was just a moment, in the right place.

right space

Life is full of these small moments when the actions of others seem to fall together. Coincidences, angels, luck? I believe in all three.

However, the return of Creatif was desire, not luck! Desire to work as a group, (which isn’t always easy), and the desire to create a space for art…for learning and teaching as well as selling. The group has some of it’s original members, and some new. Some of the members who left the group have formed a new craft fair replacing the Observatorios.

Creatif outside

 

Creatif is looking for an alternative to fairs, experimenting, and discovering how we can work together and use are individual strengths.

felting and weaving

Our first activity was yesterday, where we displayed our work in a private setting. It felt different from the Observatorios, more relaxing. I think this was because it was smaller and in a closed space, so there was more security.

weaving

The space was full of colour!

jewellery

And for our return, it was the right place!

 

Who is Creatif?

Creatif is a Cultural collective of artists, crafters and designers, who believe in the creation of spaces where artists can display and sell their work, as well as educate and connect with other artists.
My first encuentro with Creatif was on a cold winter day, in June 2012, when my family and I visited a small craft fair. I didn’t know who they were and my main memory was how pretty and original the products were. Fast forward six months to the summer of 2013 and we visited the 1st Observatorio. It looked beautiful and I loved that everything was handmade, and we could watch the crafters and artists share their techniques with the public.
I started to follow them on facebook and when they asked for new applications for their 3rd Observatorio, I applied, and was accepted! I was nervous participating in my first fair, but it was full of great people, and I believed in Creatif’s goal; to show the public how local art and crafts are made, and why people should be supporting them.
After the 5th Observatorio the group Creatif invited me to join and work with them. Yeah!
We are a diverse group of women who work with different materials to create beautiful objects. We come from different backgrounds, with different ideas and strengths, which we use to compliment each other.

“CREATIF es una agrupación Cultural  sin fines de lucro, es un espacio de cooperación entre creadoras y emprendedoras de la región de Coquimbo creada en el año 2012 con la idea de compartir, organizar, participar, integrar y convocar. 

Desarrollando desde su creación un conjunto de soluciones relacionadas al emprendimiento, la educación, la difusión y la generación de nuevas redes, por este motivo uno de sus principales objetivos es generar espacios de interacción que faciliten el quehacer creador y que permita generar alianzas, convenios e intercambios, potenciar oportunidades y abrir espacios de difusión de iniciativas y trabajos tanto en Chile como en el extranjero.” – From Creatif’s blog.
Creatif is made up of nine women. Here are links to some of their blogs and examples of their work.
Calzados Mamba
Ceramicas Veronica Ruiz
Spiders Workshop

Before you buy gifts at the mall, look local and handmade!

In time for Christmas, the 6th Observatorio Cultural will offer residents and visitors of La Serena the chance to buy local and handmade gifts, as well as participate in free mini classes. image This Observatorio will also see the launch of Creatif products inspired by the life and work of Gabriela Mistral. These products are made by combining our knowledge and use of different materials to make unique gifts. It is going to be good. And it is going to be fun! We will be in the plaza Santa Domingo, from the 20th to the 23rd of December. image image image image image

A good start to the New Year

Really, this is supposed to be a blog about fibres and soft squishy handmade objects, but we haven’t seen many of them here for a while. I have been knitting and creating things, and to prove it, here are some completed projects to start this post.

The scarf and hat I knit for my husband for Christmas.

Scarf hat

And this is a scarf I started in December of 2010, (gulp) and only just finished this week. I had not forgotten the scarf; I would pick it up, knit a little then tuck it away. For two years.

Seaweed Scarf

And a felted doll, just playing.

Doll

But, I must admit that after visiting the ocular oncologist last month about the freckle on my iris, I have spent a lot of my time learning about Ocular Melanoma, or OM.

This week I went to Santiago to have an ultrasound biomicroscopy scan done of my eye.  The doctor did this by numbing my eye then putting a small tube over it which she filled with water. Into this she put a probe to scan my eye. The results will be ready next week, (however, we will probably collect them when we see the oncologist in a few months), but she said the nevus, or freckle, looked fine. Flat, this is a good sign.

Of course, she also said that this will not show if the nevus is benign or malignant. That takes time and observation.

I am finding everything a bit confusing. What I have learned from reading on the internet, and cyber chatting with people on Ravelry, is that Ocular Melanoma is a rare form of cancer, around 2500 cases in the USA a year. OM in the iris is the least common, but with better survival rates. This may be because it is visible and it can be treated earlier. Also, because OM of the iris normally grows slowly, it is sometimes never detected as cancer, and just appears to be nevi. I think that is what the doctor meant when she said I have to wait. There may be malignant cells in the nevus but until they do something different, like grow fast or change colour, nothing needs to be done.

So even though I have been given a green light, and during the day I can accept that I don’t have cancer, in the night it is not so easy. I have been waking up scared and I am trying to turn these feelings around to make changes in my life to stop the cancer from ever coming.

Three months ago I had never heard of Ocular Melanoma, and what a “sneaky” cancer it is. Most people know what to look for with skin cancer, when to have a mole looked at, or the risks they take when smoking. Women know to get regular Pap smears and mammograms. Men know to get their prostates checked. But then there are cancers that sneak up on you; childhood cancers, or cancers that are rare and receive little news coverage.

Ocular Melanoma is rare, but like many cancers, survival rates seem to be improved when the tumours are detected early. A person may have no symptoms and because most tumours are inside the eye only a doctor can see them. Regular eye checks are important.

I know I do not have Ocular Melanoma, (for now my freckle is only a freckle) and so have no right to warn people or give out information, but this is the internet, and if I can help someone searching, and find more information, then I will. (However, remember this is the internet and does not replace talking with a doctor). Here are some links I found useful, although it is all very confusing, and what gave me the most comfort was cyber chatting with people who have OM.

A Cure In Sight – a new charity to help people pay for their treatment. This site has a good list of links for more information.

[Love X Infinity]2 – The Not-Quite-Fairytale of a Cancer Princess, good links and personal perspective.

Interview with Oliver Sacks on Vision, His Next Book, and Surviving Cancer.

Starting with the studio

It has been a while since I have written about fibre fun. This is not because I have not been doing anything, quite the opposite. I have been doing so many different things that I don’t know where to start. I feel scattered, too many things to tell.

So I will start with my new studio. I have taken over the building where we used to make cheese and I love my new space.

I have lots of windows and light.

Electricity and water means I can listen to music and make a cup of tea.

My collection of woolly dolls to keep me company.

And a separate room for getting messy with felting and wool picking.

In this new space I can work on different projects at the same time. Like this weaving on my table loom.

With the four harnesses on this loom I can weave more complicated patterns, like the raised pattern on this scarf.

I have also been able to complete some projects that have been sitting around for a long time. A certain felting project that didn’t turn out right, (when felting doesn’t work) is finally finished.

I divided the strips into two colour groups and then wove them with a wool warp to make two separate wall hangings.

This month I have also been busy with my weaving class. We have been displaying are work at school shows.

There was a lot of interest in what we are doing, with a few sales and the possibility of new students.

 

Add teaching felting classes, and shearing, spinning and dyeing mohair, I have been quite busy.  But I will leave those for another post.

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.

post de ovejas/sheep post

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.

post de husos/ drop spindles post

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!

When felting doesn’t work

I think most crafting blogs like to show the beautiful creations that they make, I know I do.  However sometimes things don’t turn out the way you want them to.

If it is knitting, the undesired object can be “frogged”, or pulled apart.  The first time I did this I was upset at the thought of undoing all my work, but as the rows unravelled I felt a certain freedom knowing the yarn had not been “set in stone” and I could knit something new.

This month I have been working with wet felt, and found that unfortunately it is “set in stone”.  Once the wool has been felted it can’t be un-felted.  The scarves I have been making, (see previous post) look really nice, individually. When I look at them all together they make me feel a bit sick, (too many colours, – I should have paid attention to that feeling!)  But I didn’t, and when my dad asked me to make a large, felted wall hanging I said, “Okay!”

And I made one.  Just not very well.

I laid out the equivalent of 5 scarves in wool.  It didn’t fit on the table so I had to work on the floor, (not comfortable) and the biggest mistake; I didn’t layer enough wool under the silk/merino mix.  After all the work of getting the wool to look nice, wetting, soaping, and rolling I opened it up to see there were holes.  Lots of holes; some big, some long, and some just areas of thin wool.  Definitely not what I had imagined, and very disappointing.

felted wall hanging

I thought about patching up the holes with more wool, but it would have still been pulled out of shape.

So I got drastic and cut it into strips with the idea of weaving the strips together.  I laid them out in an open weave and needle felted the trips together.

Needle felting the strips

This took a while.

When they were felted together I attached a piece of wood to the back of the top strip to hang it.

On the wall

And it still looks bad.  The thin parts of the wool are stretching, one side is hanging funny…

I will take it down and see what I can do to make it better.  Maybe there is nothing I can do to make it look nice.  My oldest daughter said, “well at least you are learning”, which is true.  Sometimes things don’t work out the way you plan, which is what I like about working with wool, the unexpected results.  However I have to take the bad as well as the good.

I have some ideas for the wall hanging.  The strips can be unwoven, and maybe woven more tightly, or used as the weft with a different warp.  If anyone else has any ideas, please feel free to leave a comment.

Felted Christmas gifts

As well as spinning, wool can be used for felting and over the past three weeks I have been playing with felt to make scarves for Christmas gifts.  Wet felting is done by criss-crossing layers of wool and then agitating them with soap and water until they form a fabric.  There are books and information on the internet, but this is just an account of how I have been doing my experiments!

Wet felting is usually done on bubble wrap but I used a foam sheet which also works.  It helps to have a large table that you can get wet.  I have been using a merino/silk blend with a contrasting or complimenting colour sandwiched in the middle.  The silk zig-zags across the scarf like lightening.

I start by gently opening the merino/silk top and laying it on the foam.

Merino/silk blend laid out

Then I lay the contrasting colour (shades of blue) at a right angle to the merino/silk.

Depending on how thick I want the scarf I put more or less wool over the merino/silk blend.

When there is enough contrasting colour I lay another strip of merino/silk blend on top.

I then gently pour water and soap over the entire scarf and press it down so that all the wool is wet.

Next I fold the foam over the top and roll the scarf up.

I gently roll and unroll the scarf from both ends.  I work gently, rubbing and turning the scarf until I can feel the fabric forming and the scarf is holding together.  I then lift it off the foam.

And gently scrunch it up to felt it more.  This is where it shrinks the most.

I lay it out to see how the scarf is forming.

And when I am happy I rinse it and let it dry.

Finished lightening scarf.

This one I have made for myself and scarves with different colour combinations for gifts, (in case anyone checks out my blog)!  I like that these are quick to make, (compared to knitting and weaving) and the silk looks spectacular in the sun.