Monday, September 24, 2012

Catching up

My friend Linda Odom said she heard of this strange new idea called "a day off." She was going to try taking a day off this weekend, I hope it works for her, she's been working way too hard.
Angora goat rugby scrum. Shirts vs Skins, er, shorn vs fleeced?

I am trying it too, I didn't go anywhere near work or my office yesterday.
Chantilly Lace with her pretty face in the woods.

Instead I -
  • sheared 4 of the angora goats,
  • plied two skeins of wool/mohair blend (natural colored)
  • finally got a picture of Hagrid. His black is so black that his face always disappears in pictures.
  • edited a picture of Gizmo, (see Common Threads new profile pic)
  • started addressing the postcards to send to people who signed up at Studio Tour
  • cut and sewed the lining for the Gizmo fleece purse, now I just have to handstitch it into the purse.
  • And did some laundry and dishes and helped Lena cook beans, cornbread and kale for dinner.

It was a very good day. I like days off!

Hagrid says, "Hi!"
I hope your day was wonderful, too.

Gamma Ray's gorgeous fleece. I want to spin it NOW!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Visit our studio and sign up to win a hand-tied broom

In July, Shawn came up with the idea to thank our wonderful visitors at the Ozark Folk Center by giving away one item from each craft shop each day. The crafts people all thought it was a great idea and outdid each other creating wonderful items to give to the lucky winner of each day's drawing.
You might win a Turkey Wing broom similar to this one if
you enter the drawing at our Common Threads Studio
September 14-16, 2012.

Since it was his idea, Shawn took the responsibility for doing the daily drawing and over the month, he developed quite a patter. One of the early lines he came up with was, "Now ya'll know one of the conditions of the drawing is you must bring me presents to win." Then he'd pause and look over the crowd. "You didn't know that was one of the conditions?"
At that point, somebody either in the crowd, or one of the crafts people who knew the schitck would say, "No, it says here that you must be present to win."
And Shawn would go on to say how that was a typo, but he'd just have to abide by what was printed.

This is the first year Shawn will be offering his award-winning brooms at our home studio during Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour, September 14-16. To encourage people, especially those who have been here before, or (gasp) folks who aren't interested in sheep, to stop by, Shawn will be giving away one of his beautiful Ozark Turkey Wing brooms during the Tour. The drawing will be Sunday, September 16 at 4:00. You don't have to be present to win, we'll be happy to call you and you can either come by and pick up your broom, or we can mail it to you. However, you do have to physically come to our Common Threads Studio in Mountain View to enter the drawing.
Shawn also makes broom tying tables in his workshop.

So, check out the Studio Tour web site for the directions to all the fine studios and take a few minutes to swing by ours and at least congratulate Shawn on his National Craft Broom win and enter the drawing for one of his unique, hand-tied brooms.

Of course, if you want to feed the sheep, look at my shawls, handspun yards, bright dyed fibers or enter the drawing for one of my rugs, I'll be here too.

Hope to see you this weekend.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Win a Fleecyful Wool Rug

This coming weekend is the Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour September 14-16. Now in its 11th year, the tour is a free, self-guided driving tour of 30 artisans home studios within 30 miles of the Mountain View Courthouse Square. It gives visitors a rare chance to see working artisans in the environment that inspires them. And it gives you a chance to purchase unique items directly from the person who made them.

As long as the weather is good, all my Fleecyful Rugs
will be on the porch during Off The Beaten Path Studio
Tour, so you can shop for your perfect rug.
We've been doing the tour for several years now and have made many friends of the folks who visit our studio. This year, I want to say a special "thank you" to our friends.

Many of you know the rugs I weave from my sheep's wool. These Fleecyful Rugs are incredibly comfortable, durable, washable, and unique. Each rug is a one-of-a-kind, woven from an entire fleece that one of our sheep took an entire year to grow. Every dollar we get from the sale of these rugs goes back into the care and feeding of our rare Jacob Sheep and Angora goats.

Boomer says "Thank you very much for buying Fleecyful Rugs so
I can keep my girlfriends."
I've been weaving steadily this summer and have a good selection of rugs ready for buyers to choose from at the Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour September 14-16. Now I need your help to get the word out about these rugs.

To thank you for sharing the word, I'll be giving away two rugs at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 16.

There are two ways to win -

1. Come by our Common Threads Studio and sign our guest book, leave a good contact email or phone number, check the box that you want to enter the rug giveaway, and tell us who recommended you visit our Studio.

2. Be the person who is most listed in the "Who recommended that you visit our Studio" column.

So, plan a girl friend's weekend trip to Mountain View, bring your husband for a fun weekend getaway (there are lots of places to hike and fish if he isn't into crafts) or if you really can't make it to Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour, send all your friends and tell them to bring you back cool stuff.

You just might win a really awesome rug for helping promote this creative group of artisans and beautiful area of Arkansas .

Saturday, September 08, 2012

The best broom makers in the USA are mine

This year my partner Shawn and my daughter Lena were invited to send brooms to compete in the Arcola Illinois Broom Corn Festival.  Arcola is the broom corn capitol of the world, where I understand that modern broom corn was developed in 1859. It still is home to several top US broom manufacturers. The first prize for the champion broom was $600.
Shawn Hoefer, reigning champion craft broom maker. See
how he weaves the color twist up into the plait.

Elena Larson's broom won honorable

So they worked all summer on their ideas for these special brooms. The brooms could be artful, but they had to be a working broom. Shawn went through several prototypes for his winding, twisted plait broom with a swash that he did with autumn colors that he dyed to match the handle that he had polished from a really nice hickory. Lena's showed off her incredible attention to detail with a blend of colors and a fine herringbone plait on a really gorgeous hand finished handle.
Detail of the fine stitching, plaiting and color blending that mark Elena's brooms

They shipped off their brooms a few weeks ago and I didn't hear any more. But yesterday afternoon, we were sitting in a Thai restaurant in Mountain Home when Shawn pulls out his iphone and says, "The broom judging should be finished." He got quiet and handed me the phone. Out of all the broom makers in the nation - Shawn Hoefer was first place. and down the line, Lena was 4th. We have the nations best broom makers right here.

I'm so proud of my broom makers. and this year, for the first time, Shawn will be offering his brooms for sale in his Studio during the Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour. Come by and see the broom maker in his native habitat September 14-16, 2012.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Feed the sheep

Tillie says "Fill the bucket for the pretty goat?"
We still do a few shows every year. I love to weave and spin the fleece from my sheep and angora goats and make beautiful rugs and shawls. Shawn is a fantastic wood carver and world-class broom maker. Lena's talents are across the board, right now she is focusing on making great brooms. All these items will be at our Common Threads studio on our farm in two weeks. Most facets of my life are now involved in getting ready for Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour. At work, I'm trying to make sure all contingencies are covered so I can be away for three days.

Fantasia says, "I'm too elegant to beg for food."
And here on the farm I'm trimming toes, seeing who needs to be sheared this fall and generally making all the critters pretty for company. I'm also mowing the paths (yes, we did get a little rain out of hurricane Isaac), cleaning up the accumulated junk, trying to decide what to do with the garden and prettying up the sights and site.

In the studio, I'm frantically finishing projects and working on getting a new warp on the Newcomb so that I can demo weaving during the tour. I have about 25 rugs finished, as well as about a dozen shawls and a couple dozen skeins of yarn. I've dyed up lots of pretty bright colored mohair locks.

We do Studio Tour for many reasons. I love to share our crafts and critters with people who are interested. I love to make things, and I don't like to accumulate things. I like to share the comfort and happiness of our farm with people through the items I make from the fleeces my critters grow. I enjoy being a part of the circle of the animals on my farm connecting through me to people in the city. And, we need to make money to buy feed for the sheep and goats. My sheep get to live long, productive, comfortable, beloved lives because I use their wool to make things that people buy. I do spin  straw into gold, it just takes a few extra steps and at least a year.
Hocus Pocus, now you love sheep.

 In an average year, we buy 300 bales of hay. This is not an average year. Every penny we make at shows, in the Arkansas Craft Guild Gallery and at Christmas Showcase goes to feed and care for our sheep and goats. This year, with feed prices so very high, we are asking our critters to be ambassadors, as well as growing fleeces. I think they can do both at the same time. They don't mind, as long as the food keeps coming.

I'm thinking of making "Feed the sheep" trading cards and running "Feed the sheep" promotions.
Which of these girls would you like to see on a trading card?
Who is your favorite sheep?
Collect all 30 sheep and goats.... What do you think?

Leave a comment here with your favorite sheep and I'll send you a trading card when I get them printed. Share the information about Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour with your friends. We'd love to see you here at the farm, and I'll say "thank you" for the sheep.

Henna and Harley, the dairy goat twins love their grain

Fritillary says, "Fluffy little butterfly
goats have to eat well to grow good fluff."

At 13 years of age, Thyme eats
special pellets. She doesn't
have any front teeth.

Finesse says, "THBbbbbbt!"

Basil is granddam to most of the flock and a loving mother.

Boo -boo is super serene, perhaps to make
up for her name.

Gobi looks so goofy she makes me laugh. Her fleece is so
soft, I'm currently weaving a shawl on the triloom with
yarn I spun from her first shearing.

Heather likes hay. Heather likes people who feed her hay.

Hanna is quietly growing into a beautiful ewe.

Higgs! Don't forget Higgs! Higgs will give you hugs.

Demi says, "look, my feed pan is empty, again!"

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Time warp; space warp; wool warp

If you're looking for a rigid heddle loom warping tutorial, our Laffing Horse site has those. And yes, that is another project in the works. We are working on redoing that site.

If you're looking for a warping tutorial for a Newcomb rug loom... I haven't written one yet. Maybe somebody else has. I can tell you it takes me about 16 hours to warp it with an 8 yard warp.

This essay is about time and the how the perceived speed of it keeps increasing. I don't remember anything about that in Einstein's "Theory of Relativity", but it has been many years since I read that book.

This weekend is a holiday weekend. I work for the Ozark Folk Center State Park. Like anyone else in the tourism, hospitality, retail or foodservice industries, I know those green highlighted "holidays" on the pay calendar mean "extra long hours". It makes me wonder how any folks get the time off to come visit us. So, last night, as I was working the concession stand for the excellent Michael Martin Murphey concert, (we have Charlie Daniels Band coming the end of the month, on Sept. 21, check the web site for tickets), I realized it was September. I've given up trying to figure out where all rest of the months went.

September means I need to have all my October press releases written, like now, some are late. It means we need to have firm plans for our November events, February contracts need to be finalized and March class registrations are rolling in. I am working on a symposium for August 2013 and the 2014 calendar of events is starting to fill up. When I write it down, it's pretty obvious why time speeds by so fast.

In the meantime, back on the farm, we are starting on winter shelters, beginning to move animals into breeding groups, starting on the winter greens garden, continuing to search for hay and prepping for our fall shearing. Farm time flows at a regular pace. It still involves much planning and foresight, but it seems to move more like a wagon wheel, or a spinning wheel.

It's the difference between modern time and old time - between rural time and urban time. Every day I bend space and slip between the two time flows.