Five years

Wow! So WordPress has informed me that today is my five year anniversary! How the time has gone by! And just when I am starting a new adventure with my Dad. We are going to open a small shop on the farm to sell our chemical free produce and arts and crafts made by me and any friends that want to join in.

I have cleaned out the space, but there is still a lot of work to be done before it will be ready to open. The shop will be called The Sheeps Garden, El Jardin de la Oveja

This weekend my Dad and I participated in a small fair, which was fun and we got to see what produce people liked and their opinions.

   
 
I’m so happy to be celebrating five years, and thanks to everyone who has followed along!

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Creating colour

The sun was up early this morning, so I put some wool in my solar ovens. I used my usual natural dye materials; walnut leaves, fennel flowers and leaves, onion skins, and avocado peels.

The onion skins I started the day before.

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By the end of the day there was a bit of colour showing.

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Here is some grey yarn I dyed on the weekend with onion skins.

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I will leave the wool in the ovens for another day to deepen the colours, then they will be ready to spin!

Finally…classes

I have finally started offering hand spinning classes. Now that I have a space that I share with other artists, I feel comfortable inviting people to come and learn the beautiful skill of creating yarn from wool!

So if you are visiting or live in La Serena, and you would like to learn how to hand spin, click on the classes link on the right, or visit our page Creatif.cl

Classes can be in English or Spanish, and there are a lot of other classes too, like ceramics, weaving, painting, paper mâché, and yoga…so many!

Sheep shearing at Hacienda El Tangue

The IV Region, is not known for its sheep, and when people see Chilean wool it usually comes from the South. Patagonia is full of sheep, most of them merino. The wool I use for most of my spinning comes from my sheep, which are basically for meat, similar to Oxford and Suffolk breeds. So I was very surprised when I heard there was a flock of merino sheep about an hour drive from my house, at the Hacienda El Tangue. I didn’t want to visit without contacting them, so I had put off going.

But then I heard of a small craft fair being held at the hacienda; an event organized by El Tangue and Innatura, a vegetarian restaurant located in La Serena. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see some sheep, so this weekend with my family, we drove to El Tangue.

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El Tangue is twenty minutes south of the seaside town Tongoy, and as well as the craft fair there was horse riding, trekking, BBQ, vegetarian food, and (most importantly), sheep shearing!

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Sheep waiting to be sheared

The building where they shear is tall, dark, and impressive, made of wood and a thatch-like material. I talked to the man who classifies the wool, and he said that at the moment there are 8000 sheep and they are sheared between October and November. The wool is classified and pressed into bails ready for sale. Information on the internet, from 2009, says they had over 10,000 sheep, shearing 600 a day with 4.5 to 5.5 kilos per fleece, making 12 bales a day.

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Fleece sorting and pressing, bales at the back

I asked about buying some wool but, all of the wool is sent to the south of Chile for processing and export.

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Sheep after shearing where they are checked and given worming medicine

My family and I watched them shear along with other visitors. Here is my video of the shearing.

The shearing demonstration was scheduled for 10am till noon, we saw them shear at 1.30 and there were still people arriving to watch. It was Saturday, their day off, and they weren’t being paid for the demonstration. So the shearer may not have been working as fast as a work day, and may have been a bit grumpy.

I was fascinated by how he moved the sheep, something I can’t do when I shear. I loved being there. I loved the smell of the lanolin, the sheep and the metal grease, the cool dark air compared to the sunshine outside, the rolls of soft greasy wool. I could have stayed there all day.

But unfortunately, the rest of my family is not so obsessed with wool, so with two sleepy girls we drove home.

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And the weekend continued with more surprises; as I wrote this post on Sunday, it was raining outside. In fact it rained for most of the day, rare for November. The rain is great for the plants, not so great for my laundry, which I had to wash, and had to peg out, rain or no rain. Although my girls said they didn’t mind if they stayed home from school because of wet uniforms…they are so thoughtful.

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Lets just call this my 100th post

I wanted to write something great and moving for my 100th post, but the more I think about what I should write, the further away I find the post. This happens a lot with me. Constantly thinking, my mind going over every thing so that I get nothing done. However, today I will share.

This morning I looked out of my window, through the mist, and watched the new lambs as they jumped and played, and it made me think of all the beauty around me.

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Like yesterday for instance. My family and I went up the Elqui Valley to Vicuña where we had a terrible lunch, (not new for us), but a nice walk around. We visited Emporio Oveja Negra, which sells products from some of the Creatif participants as well as the owner’s beautiful wool creations. We then visited Galeria Elqui, part of Elqui Total. This is a pretty gallery set in a horse ranch, with textile, ceramic, sculptures and painted art.

I came home feeling inspired and belonging to the artistic/artesian community, – and it feels great!

I have been preparing for the next Observatorio Cultural, but in a relaxed way, enjoying the process. I have more ideas, (have to start thinking of spring) and using more of my handspun.

At the moment I am working on a diagonal weave on my large nail loom.

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I am not sure if it is slower than traditional looms, but there is no warp loss, which is good when I am using my handspun.Image

The handspun is a mix of wool from the south, alpaca, and wool from my sheep.

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I have also been sewing with my youngest daughter and knitting a scarf for my oldest.

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I bought some grey fleece fabric for school clothes, and we made this octopus with some of the leftover.

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This is really simple and great for kids! Here is the link on how to make this no-sew octopus.

There have also been some changes on the farm. Sadly, last weekend we sold the last of our cows. As long as I have lived on my Dad’s farm we have always had cows. But my Dad wants to focus on smaller animals that don’t need as much physical strength to control, (when things go wrong it helps). I am sure this has been harder for my Dad, but he is looking forward to a simpler farm.

And I am looking forward to my next 100 posts!

 

Winter craft fair – 4to Observatorio Cultural

This past weekend I participated in the 4to Observatorio Cultural.  It was hard work, (long days and cold), but a lot of fun!

Obs401This was my second fair and I was better prepared and more relaxed. I did some research on the internet about craft fairs, and learned how to display my woolly items better.

Obs402I also packed myself a good lunch and took coffee in a Thermos, perfect for the cold mornings! (I know, I said I was going to stop drinking coffee… but the odd one, or two is so nice!)

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I carded different breeds of sheep’s wool, alpaca, and mohair and then spun them on my wheel and drop spindle. People were amazed by the different textures and how the “fluffy fibre” was transformed into a yarn.

Obs403There were so many lovely hand crafted gifts and a really great atmosphere.

Here are a few pictures of some of the stalls; jewellery, honey, shoes, felted clothes, yarn, and plants are just some of the things that were on sale.

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More photos can be seen on Creatif’s facebook page for the 4to Observatorio Cultural.

And I have a small confession to make. I have a guilty pleasure that goes against all my woolly work…and it is called polar fabric.

As much as I love spinning wool from my sheep and goats, I find it hard to wear around my neck. Luckily my husband has no problem and he has a great selection of wool and mohair scarves. I, however, live in polar clothes in the winter. So when I saw this cape at the fair I couldn’t resist.

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And depending how I wear the hood I either look like the grim reaper or little red riding hood!