Spinning

Fluffy

This weekend was jam packed with adventures! On Saturday we went into the city to see this adorable creatures at MOPACA. Finding parking was ridiculous because there was also a cheer competition going on. But finally we found our entrance and made our way into the world of the alpaca.

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There are two breeds of alpaca - Suri (dreads) and Huacaya (bouffant). Fiber from the Suri is slippery and silky and clings to everything. All alpaca fiber is deliciously soft but doesn't have as much crimp as wool (bends in the hairs) which makes it a little difficult to spin and requires a bunch of twist. But what a joy it is to run your hands through.

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Alpacas are judged on form, softness of wool, color and uniformity of wool throughout the body. Just like humans, not all hair from all parts of an alpaca's body are the same. The best hair of camels and bison are found on their shoulders. I learn the most wonderful things at these types of events.

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You can eat alpaca and they are tasty. We talked to a lady that sold her alpaca sausage and jerky. Most of the boys that she doesn't like become food. You only really need a few studs. I love the zero waste of it all. I never did ask if you could milk them.

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The whole reason that we were at MOPACA was so that I demo spinning with some of the other guild members. I got to talk to passers by and give them my five minute, you can do it too pep talk. Spinning is much more fun than playing on your phone in public and it helps you meet your other fiber peeps quicker.

We also got to have a look at the Plug Project, a gallery down in the stockyard district. I really liked both of the shows that were up. Ian and I had a good conversation about rituals and looking at objects and trying to guess what they were used for. They have a small gallery devoted to solo shows of KC artists. I so badly want to have a solo show there. It'll be the next application I write.

Farm Report: Ian built me a planter box. I planted my seedlings and that night a good down pour came and snapped most of them. Should have read the weather report. So maybe now I'll have to plant more of the other seedlings. Good thing I left some in reserve! Discovered that bok choy should not be planted with tomatoes because it belongs to the cabbage family. On the look out for another container.

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Reading: When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi - So good. Life, the brain and death.

Listening to: The starlings that have nested in our dryer vent....should I call housing? Wait for their babies to hatch? I don't particularly love starlings but I really hated seeing baby bird bodies on the sidewalks in NE. They poison the starlings because they are an invasive species.

Eating: Snuck away to Orange Leaf with Bea while her father was at work. Shhhhh. Don't tell.

Dining In

In the military there is a tradition of members "dining in" with their leadership. Basically, everybody has a big dinner and drinking party that is active duty members only while at work. A few years ago some spouses on this base decided to have a spouses dining in where we all dressed up, ate dinner and drank with each other. It has turned into this spectacular themed event with awards for best costume, best table decoration, best skit, and best limerick. If you don't follow the prescribed "rules" of the event (ex., no clapping, only banging on the table with your spoon) then you are sent to the grog, where you take a shot of this crazy tasting jungle juice while preforming specific movements and saying things. This is the closest I will ever come to being in a sorority and it's pretty fantastic.

The theme this year was Broadway plays inspired by movies. My squadron, 509 Munitions, chose Beauty and the Beast. My fearless hubby designed and we painted this huge castle structure that our table would sit under. We had an abstract is scene of the castle, village, mountains and forests up on top of the castle structures. I got to whip out my set painting skills. It was a daunting endeavor and pretty much every weekend in February was spent practicing for the skit or working on the set. This year they offered 1st, 2nd and 3rd in table and skit and we won third place for our skit. There was much twerking and craziness.

What a night. It was so much work but so much fun in the end. We'll see what craziness we create next year.

My Pysanky classes are going at the Warrensburg community center. I had three students on Sunday after the Dining in. I had lost my voice from shouting over all the music making teaching interesting. We had a great class and a reporter showed up from the local newspaper so they a picture of me kissing my Donald Trump egg. Every year I have a theme for the Pysanky eggs I make during the season and my husband suggested Politics of 2016 for my theme. My first egg would have to be a caricature of The Donald. I hadn't expected him to be quite so orange. Here is a link to the newspaper article as well as a picture of me kissing my egg.

The Donald

So if you haven't signed up for my Pysanky class there's still time. I have classes on March 12th 9-12pm, March 20th 1-4pm, and March 26th 9-12pm.

In other news, The Greater Kansas City Fiber Guild meeting was last night with a wonderful program by a woman that took a class in weaving brocade and damask. A majority of the lingo was over my head but it made me want to learn more about weaving. I've volunteered to be a demonstrator at the MOPACA fiber show April 1st through 3rd at the American Royal Hale arena in Kansas City. So if you want to learn more about fiber and meet some fuzzy alpacas come on down on Saturday morning and spin with me a while.

The Farm Report: Seedlings are getting taller! I've begun putting them outside on nice days. Here's to strong healthy plants!

Reading: I've gotten back into manga a bit with ST. <3 Dragon Girl by Natsumi Matsumoto. So light and fluffy.

Listening to: Very loud party music.

Cooking: We've been watching the Great British Baking Show and learning how boring American deserts are. I'm inspired to make meat filled pies and pasties now.

Toys! Miniatures!

Saturday we took a little jaunt out to Kansas City for some barbecue and some museum action. It warms the cockles of my heart when Bea gets excited for museums. We tried out Jack Stack in Lees Summit. Fabulous. My first encounter with smoked lamb and I'm never going back. It's my humble opinion that American's don't eat enough lamb and they are missing out. Talk about a meat packed with excellent flavor.

Our museum for the day was so amazing, the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. I've heard rave reviews and it's so true. All the tiny things! The miniatures are fascinating and the artistry! It makes you want to work in small scale.

On Monday I had a group of ladies from Fiber Guild over for food and fiber fun. In reality I just wanted to know if I was spinning on my wheel correctly. Turns out all my thoughts about the wheel are true! It is backwards! Can wheels be left handed? Spinning on my wheel wasn't going the greatest but I broke out my new drop spindle and the difference was amazing! I could spin so tiny. So in love with spinning right now.

On Tuesday I gave a program on ikebana for the Grow and Glow Garden Club in Sedalia. It's so much fun to have an attentive group that asks great questions. But then I just love talking about ikebana and want everyone to do it. I arranged Irises and Heather for them. They aren't really plants that can be found in the same season together but the colors and textures go so well.

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P.s. We've been working on cleaning and decluttering the house. New living room arrangement! I'm reading KonMari again just in time for Chinese New Year.

Finally stopped making excuses and finished up my sashiko piece. Turns out nothing in the house needs to be cleaned half as much as I need to make art. This origami pattern is the Japanese Horned Beetle. I learned a lot with this piece. Made a ton of mistakes. Don't cut the fabric to the edge of your embroidery? Things will always fray! At least I don't have to go through all that again!

So many things happened this week it's been a bit of a blur. Let's hope we can keep up this pace! Getting things done in the new year!

Reading: Frida Kahlo: The Paintings by Hayden Herrera

Listening to: The British History podcast and how terrible life as a princess really is. No choice in anything, people hate you without knowing you, being married off to old men..... #Traditionalmarriage.

Cooking: Chili, Beer and Flautas.

 

Threads!

We are half way through our sojourn to Wyoming and I've made an excursion to my friendly local thread store, Ewe Count, in Cheyenne. I love love love Penny and her collections of all things stitching and knitting. I concentrated on bright saturated colors and even decided to try out what Penny calls Barbie panty hose. Quite tropical actually. I also got to snoop around the newest yarn store in Cheyenne, Meadowlark Yarns. Where I got a much needed drop spindle. I'm really digging their yarn collection (roving!) and clean chic atmosphere.  

 The haul&nbsp;

The haul 

Finished my Sashiko project for Kei. A little polish and it'll be in the mail soon!  

 Japanese Horned Beetle

Japanese Horned Beetle

Moving forward on my koginzashi table runner. I'm giving a program at the Greater Kansas Fiber Guild in May so I should have one finished piece right? 

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Reading: Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Bud. A Chrismas present from my SIL, another knitting enthusiast.  

Listening to: The grinding of a small motor in my daughters Loopin Chewie game. Her new favorite past time. 

Eating: Lumpia from the Philipino restaurant on F. E. Warren. So delicious! 

Happy New Years!  

Holiday Parties

So many holiday parties. Good thing I baked Christmas cookies this year. Last night was the Greater Kansas City Fiber Guilds party. We all brought a fiber related gift and played a silly game where we passed the our gift on "and" or "the"  in "'Twas the Night Before Christmas". Much giggling and anticipation.

I received some glorious hand dyed roving from Cathlin McReynolds. She grows her own indigo and uses it for dying. I asked so many questions because indigo is my next big ambition. I'm gonna learn to grow indigo this year and start down the rabbit hole that is natural dying. All the other fiber artists are doing it.

 Find her other work at her Etsy shop etsy.com/shop/ajollyyarn

Find her other work at her Etsy shop etsy.com/shop/ajollyyarn

There were a couple of ladies with large holiday decorated witches hats. They were so sparkly and loaded with little trinkets and plants that I fell in love. Bea even got to try one on. They took Glenda the good witch hats and just started adding anything seasonal. They are my next inspiration for sculpture and I just so happen to have some armatures in the garage.

More work has been made on the Ammo mural. I'm collaborating with my husband on this one because he knows all the technical stuff and I just want to make things pretty. We wanted to stay away from all the nuclear explosions and B2s in order to showcase the actual equipment that the guys work with. Thank goodness it's not everyday that you set off a live nuclear weapon.

After Ian talked with Major Drossner and showed him a few of my concept sketches he found out that 509 MUNS is one of the few squadrons in the US military that can use the mushroom cloud on their insignia. So mushroom clouds and B2s it will be.

 A very rough concept sketch. More mushroom clouds, trailers and RLAs

A very rough concept sketch. More mushroom clouds, trailers and RLAs

More work is being done on my small sashiko origami piece. Part of me wonders if I'm trying too hard to make the threads be straight and uniform and perfect. I keep frustrating myself with how crooked and hand done it looks. Is it my skills or the materials?

Reading: A Wild Swan by Michael Cunningham. I really love the stories but I think the awesome illustrations by Yuko Shimizu make it even more epic. So much texture and movement. So entangled with emotion.

Listening to: Shredder churning as I shred the filed of deceased military members. So many suicides and motorcycle accidents.

Cooking: Roasted sweet veggie awesomeness: Carrots, Acorn Squash, Dates, Parsnip, Cranberries, Onion, Garlic, Rosemary, It almost makes this beautifully pink mash.

My First Hand Spun Yarn

Last night was the Fiber Guild of Greater Kansas City's meeting. We  explored bottom whorl drop spindles. I am hopelessly inept at them, I'm sticking with a top whorl for now. But I found my spindle of choice and it's neither a top or bottom whorl. It's called an akha spindle. From what I saw after a short search on the interwebs it's used to spin cotton in Thailand. Here's a post for a little background reading. But it seems way easier to spin and fast too.

Leslie was teaching me bottom whorl.

Her home made akha.

I'm hooked now I have to find or make one.

I brought all the spinning that I had done from last month on my bottom whorl spindle for advise. One of the ladies said she had a ball winder and that we could get the yarn off my spindle and she would teach me to double ply. Single ply is one yarn that goes in a clock wise direction. Two ply means there are two clockwise spun yarns that are spun together counter clock wise. Then three, four, five, you get the idea. I kind of understand this because Koginzashi thread comes in 8 or 10 ply. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of my single ply yarn to show. But I got pictures or the ball winding process!

It took the three of use to get the yarn from the spindle to the ball winder because the yarn kept twisting back on its self. With the ball of yarn I was able to pull one end from the outside and the other end from the inside and begin double plying. It was a little tricky starting out because the yarn from the outside ball came off all at once and twisted on its self, combined with spinning in a dark car, so I spent a bunch of time untwisting so both strands match up. But isn't the out come lovely? I have a lovely sweater pattern I've had forever that I was to use it on.

Two ply

I finally figured out what to do with the Bells of Ireland. I figured I would do something crazy since I didn't have any other flowers to put with them. The vase is our mortar. They have such great line and texture I'll have to make them the subject of another arrangement.

Bells of Ireland in my mortar


Much Secrets. So Valentines.

Unfortunately there are no new photos for this post because all the projects I happen to be working on are secret. The first project is so secret that I can't even tell you why I'm doing it. The second secret project is my yearly valentine collage for Ian.

My husband told me that he really likes my collages. Since I focus so much on the fiber stuff these days and aren't churning out collages all the time I make him a yearly valentines day collage to profess my love and adulation. Usually there is some poetry, a heart and creepiness involved.

Valentines from the past:

Valentine 2014

Valentine 2012? See I can't remember if we were just dating or married by the time I made this.

I know I'm missing at least one and I can't remember what it looks like let alone where it might be.

Valentine 2011.

This was our first Valentine's day as a married couple and he was away at BMT. I could only talk to him for maybe 5 minutes sometime on Sunday. It was a very stressful time. I made it the size of the envelopes I sent all my letters in. I probably wrote him a letter a day. There were some tears on Valentine's Day that year.

So anyways, that's my sappy Valentine's day tradition. Ian tells me that he has some big surprise planned for me this year. His eyes were all lit up because he had just finished it before Bea and I walked in the house. Usually I ask for a potted plant and a pastry. In Japan the pastries are amazing.

In other artistic news, I attended my monthly fiber guild meeting! I made friends with some peeps with sheeps that live out on our end of the KC area. The meeting was about spinning with drop spindles. We made our own drop spindles out of CDs and dowels. I have finally learned to spin! I'm not great but I have the desire! Now I've got a bunch of grey roving to practice on untill I get good enough for my giant ball of white roving. I've been carting it around with me for the last 6 years.  I'm finally gonna put it to some use! Other great news is that I found someone that could help be fix my spinning wheel. Another project in the works. I'm in love with driving up to KC every month for a girl's fiber night.

I attended a lecture at UCM today about Art and Craft given by two art professors. They have community out reach lectures  (awesome!). Since they don't have a MFA or a MA in art history I'm probably not going to be going to college. Though I might try my hand at a MBA. The lecture was good, I think I can summarize the professors view as "anything that evokes emotion, good or bad, is art". In my mind, I always have questions about intention. If you don't intend for something to be art, is it art? Plus one of the professors calls himself a craftsman. He teaches intro to 3-D design, or an equivalent. So is the amount and the quality of labor involved in craft make it craft vs art? I teach crafting classes, not art classes, is that because I focus on sewing, knitting and egg dying and not drawing? Basically, I had a lot of questions and there really wasn't time to debate with them without completely disrupting the lecture.  I got to see some of the permanent artworks in the library. P.S. a years library card subscription to the UCM library is $20s. How great is that? I already have a research project in mind.