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Dazzle Daze is on the Way

It's Fall Y'allIt’s Fall and not even Thanksgiving but at The Twisted Purl Place, aka my home, it’s already beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Christmas Tree with Felted Soap A small tree is up in my living room with new ornaments being added as fast as I can make them.  Felted Soaps are drying under the tree.  I’m singing Christmas Carols as I spin up Christmas themed yarns.

Yep, Dazzle Daze is just around the corner.Dazzle Daze 2013Dazzle Daze is a huge 3 Day shopping extravaganza for an excellent cause.  The event benefits the Conway Regional Women’s Center.  Tickets are only $5 for the event or $25 for the Thursday Girls Night Out Event.  You can buy tickets for Dazzle Daze here.

There are over 85 Dazzle Daze Merchants all with amazing items and lots of goodies.  Each booth will be totally decked out and spreading Christmas cheer and yes my friends, I will be among them.  This is the perfect place to find one of a kind gifts for every person on your holiday list.

Let me be honest here, getting ready for such a big show is a bit overwhelming but immensely rewarding.  As I’ve said often, I ADORE talking to people face to face about my craft and sharing my handmade story.  BUT, the lead up to and preparation for a big show is always a lot.  Three days of shopping means (God willing) the need for enough inventory to sell for three days!  When you are talking all handmade that is a whole lot of work.  In the past I’ve shared a booth, which takes a lot of the pressure off, but this year I fly solo.  So I’m nervous and busy and sleep is not really a necessity, right?

I love to share the steps of the handmade journey with you and this new yarn journey is exploding with Christmas colors and texture.  Here’s the “Basket of Fluff”:Basket of Christmasy FluffAlong with my standard handspun yarn, felted soaps, and other fiber creations for Dazzle Daze I’m making a few ornaments.  That’s the plan for this yarn.  Funky textures and Christmas colors for uniquely handmade ornaments.Sparkly Drum CarderAbove is a photograph of the fiber spinning on the drum carder.  It looked super sparkly (Angelina fiber does that and I love using it).  Below is the picture of the carded batt once it went through the drum carder.Christmasy Carded BattFrom the batt I spun the fiber into yarn with my spinning wheel.Yarn on Spinning WheelBecause I plan to use this skein strictly for Christmas Ornaments I put it directly on my ball winder and skipped the process of putting it on the swift and into a hank of yarn.Christmas Handmade Yarn for Ornaments at Dazzle DazeHere’s the finished yarn.  It turned out pretty spiffy. Below is an example of one of the ornaments I’ve made.Ornament made with Handspun Yarn for Dazzle Daze 2013Want a discount? Come out to Dazzle Daze this year and show me the below coupon to receive $5 off. Save paper! No need to print it, just pull it up on your phone (even just tell me you saw it). 😉Dazzle Daze 2013 Coupon for The Twisted Purl Booth Dazzle Daze will take place at the Conway Expo Center and Fairgrounds at 2505 East Oak Street, Conway Arkansas. November 21-23, 2013

The Twisted Purl featured in 501 Life Dazzle Daze Shopping Guide
The Twisted Purl’s Items Featured in 501 Life Magazine’s preview for Dazzle Daze Shopping Yay!

Find out more about the Dazzle Daze schedule on their website or through their Facebook page.

Hope to see you there!!!

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Journey of Alpaca Fiber: Farm to Yarn to Scarf

Alpaca from Sweet Clover AlpacaEarly this spring, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Sweet Clover Alpaca’s shearing day.  I really got to know these adorable animals and their gracious owner.  I’ve fallen in love with the unbeatable softness of the alpaca fiber.  Look at all that cuteness…Aww!Cute AlpacaI came home with bags and bags of alpaca.  (Bags and bags and bags)  Thinking oh yeah, I can spin this up in no time flat.  Ha!  If only all I had to do all day was spin, then maybe. Look at all the colors and did I mention the softness.  Yum!!!Bags of AlpacaThe idea of being able to spin local alpaca was so delicious.  Alpaca raised right here in Conway and then turned into handspun yarn here too. Talk about keeping it local!  There’s no better way then this.Basket of AlpacaPictured above is a basket of the large variety of the colors found naturally in Alpaca.  I took the basket of fluff and blended it together through my drum carder to mix all the colors.Alpaca Fibers Blending on a Drum CarderThe fibers are blended on my drum carder to become a carded batt.  Carded Batts are easier to spin.  The drum carder lines all the fibers up going the same direction which makes spinning on a spinning wheel faster and smoother.  Plus, although alpaca are a whole heck of a lot cleaner than sheep, the drum carder helps remove excess hay and dirt before spinning.Alpaca Fiber Spinnig on WheelThis is the yarn on the spinning wheel being turned into handspun yarn.  First the yarn is spun directly from the carded batt to fill up the bobbin.  The fiber goes through the spinning wheel once, it can then be considered a finished single ply yarn.  I like to ply my yarn either with a strong thread to add texture, or with itself depending on the colors.Handspun Yarn made from Arkansas AlpacaAbove is the finished alpaca yarn.  After this step, the yarn has is rinsed and the twist is then set.  Being this fiber is directly from local fiber, some hay and dirt is completely washed and cleaned from the yarn.  Although a lot of the extra stuff gets pulled out while spinning, the yarn gets a good rinse to remove any excess dirt and barnyard.Alpaca Handspun Yarn turned into a ScarfHere’s a finished scarf made with the above alpaca.  It was hand weaved. Simply divine to touch!  Wrapping up with this on a cold winter’s day would be the best! That’s the entire journey: farm to fluff to carded batt to spinning wheel to yarn then finally into a scarf.Alpaca Weaved Scarf up closePictured below is Caspian, another Sweet Clover Alpaca.  He was a Cria (which is a baby alpaca) and I was fortunate enough to watch his first shearing and buy the coat.  His fiber was so fine and full of fun crimp.Alpaca into YarnThe yarn spun into what looked like a boucle style yarn, with little wispy curls all around. Handspinning AlpacaSince he was such a little guy, there were only two skeins of yarn made from his gorgeous first coat.20131008-071256.jpgHere are a few more skeins of finished alpaca.  The all natural colors are perfect.Four Skeins of Beautiful AlpacaThis last one has a touch of added bling with sequins on the thread.Handspun Alpaca with added blingPlease let me know if you have any questions. I’m working on putting together a few more “This is how it’s done” type of posts.  I tend to ramble on and on about spinning and carding and felting and realize a lot of you do not know the variety of steps or even what the heck I’m talking about.  Here is a earlier post with a video showing how fiber goes from fluff into yarn using all the tools mentioned above.

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Why Craft Fair Rain is a Blankety Blank

It’s raining, it’s pouring, this craft fair’s super boring.  No customers and wet wool. Oh look! Our booth now has a pool.20131011-060349.jpgWith unbridled anticipation, I stalked the Weather App on my iPhone last week.  Refresh.  Refresh.  Had it changed?  10% chance rain, 30% chance rain, 60% chance rain…oh crud.  Should I go to the outdoor craft show?  Should I stay home?  I mean, after all I own a tent.  I prepared all week.  Crafted until I could no longer craft.  Oh forget it, I’m going.  I’ve got balls!Wool Dryer Balls by The Twisted PurlA lot of Wool Felted Balls.   They are meant to go in the dryer after all…so if they get a bit damp, it’s all good.  Right?

Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I have to go.  I adore shows.  Love talking face to face about spinning and dyeing and creating. Oh gosh, I just love, love, love it all!

But rain and wool really don’t mix.  You know what your dog smells like wet.  Well, yeah…my booth wouldn’t be any better! So, I should probably just stay home…and what about my felted soap?Felted Soap DisplayUgh, rain and soap together is like soap in the shower.  Might be a good way to show how they work?  No!  This is crazy talk to even think about doing this outdoor show with 60% chance of rain!!!  BUT, if all the soap really gets wet, it would help up clean up the streets.  I can always promote myself as a vigilante, working hard at keeping the streets clean.

I can even see the front page newspaper title now:

The Twisted Purl uses Handmade Felted Soaps to Clean up the Streets of Little Rock

No, I really shouldn’t go.Rainy Day Craft Fair Set UpThen Saturday came and yes of course, I went. There was no talking me out of it.  All signs pointed to no go, but yet, there I was. This was my set up pictured above.  Just a few sprinkles.  I could handle that.  See the wind blowing the tablecloths?  That was right before the skies opened up and buckets of rain dumped right on our day.Handspun Yarn in the RainI was optimistic.  I smiled.  I danced.  The rain let up for 3 minutes and 20 seconds.  Long enough to sell 3 soaps and one ball. Woohoo!  Maybe the day wasn’t going to be a total wash.

Then…more rain.  Again, I stalked the Weather App . Watched the radar.  Oh! We were just in a small pocket of rain, it was quickly passing.  It’s all good!  No more rain until 3:00 pm.  It lied.

The wind picked up, we held on to the tent for dear life, and cursed the Weather App.

I had already put my yarn back in the plastic containers for safe, dry keeping. The wool balls did get pretty damp, but they are made for that.  Even during the side blowing, torrential downpours, I was able to keep the felted soap safe. NO suds in the street…So much for The Twisted Purl Vigilante.

  As if the pool forming in the middle of my booth wasn’t enough of a sign, I waited…hopeful.  Maybe this will pass? The sun will come out? The customers will flood my tent, instead of just seeking dry refuge.

Then I realized my labels were curling and all my business cards were getting damp, ugh, I knew it was time to go.  Even if the sun came out, most of my inventory was wet or damp.  Even if the customers flooded my tent, no one would want to take home wet products.  I tried my best to keep a smile and not say blankety blank (too many times or loud enough for all the non-existent customers to hear).

Next outdoor show I sign up to do and the handy-dandy, sometimes deceitful, weather app says rain, you can bet I learned my lesson.  Oh I’m still going.  But, I’m just going to take a tent and my spinning wheel.  I’ll sit, spin, and sing in the rain and hand out my business cards to anyone interested.  My products are safely protected and dry at home.  Heck I’ll even offer free shipping to those who are brave enough to be out in the storm.Discover more on EtsyThe sun may have come out that afternoon (or may not…who knows I hit the road).  My customers may have missed me (sorry, honestly).  But, craft fairs and rain is a blankety blank and wet wool is no fun. For real.  Like the above picture shows, you can always discover more at rain completely washed out and unreadable store name on Etsy.  The product’s all dry now, I promise.

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Spinzilla Week Continues


Wrapped Felted SoapDay Two of Spinzilla week consisted of creating felted soaps for a few of our retail stores, so spinning was a bit slow.  Yesterday, however was a different story. Alpaca Fiber on Drum CarderI worked up a blend of natural alpaca fiber.  The different variations of color reminded me of chocolate chip cookie dough.  Delicious. Seriously, it was making me hungry while spinning. In the end I had 135 yards of fresh spun yarn…guess that’s better for the diet than cookies anyway! 😉135 yards of all natural alpaca spun for SpinzillaNext, on the smaller spinning wheel, a few more yards were being cranked out. Although I adore my Country Spinner for large projects (and even really all spinning), when I really want to spin and not think, I gravitate back to my Joy.Handspun Yarn on Spinning WheelAfter quite a bit of spinning, this one added 140 more yards to my total.140 Yards of Handspun Yarn created for SpinzillaAll this spinning was wearing out Daisy.Tired Daisy DogShe may have been beat, but I was ready to tackle the next skein of yarn.  I had this carded batt made up a few weeks back and it was calling my name.Carded Batt Spinning FiberThis carded batt consisted of merino wool, bamboo, starbright, and some hand painted up-cycled yarn bits.Yarn on BobbinAfter spinning this up as fine weight as possible, I had 159 more yards for Spinzilla.159 Yards of Handspun Yarn for SpinzillaThursday will be yet another Felted Soap day, but I’m doing my best to get in as much spinning as possible in between soap batches.  Next year, I’ll have to be on a team for Spinzilla, instead of going rogue. I’m absolutely loving having the motivation of the competition to kick my spinning into high gear.  With Dazzle Daze just around the corner and The Locals opening soon, high gear is a necessity.