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Art Batts Out My Ears!

Hey Everyone!

Down here we have been enjoying some lovely spring weather with temperatures in the 70s!  It amazes me how one day everyone can be bundled up in layers upon layers of jackets and hats, and then the next day wearing sun dresses and a layer of sweat.  I personally prefer my sundresses to my winter clothes, (mostly because I hate pants), so I hope this weather just continues to blossom.

Cyndi has been busy getting ready for a couple of shows this weekend!  When I got to The Twisted Purl studio yesterday, I came prepared with numerous art batt inspirations, in the hopes that Cyndi would let me make just one carded art batt.  Luckily, when I walked through the doors she was quick to tell me that today was all about art batts, and that I was to make as many as possible to be spun into yarn to sell at her show.  She only had about 12 skeins of yarn, so she needed a bunch more!  I helped make 5 carded art batts before I had to head back to campus.

photo 1  This is my tulip inspired basket of fluff.  Even though I had a spectacular valentines day with my significant other, I couldn’t resist doing what he calls “one up-ing him” by buying myself some sale flowers.  Some of which were tulips.  The insides of the flowers were so beautiful when they first opened up, that my first instinct was YARN!

photo 2 My next art batt started with thoughts about my monet yarn.  I love blues and greens together, so I started with that.  Then I fished through Cyndi’s collection of fluff until I had just the right components collected.

photo 3 My third art batt was a completely white one.  Cyndi says that this is surprisingly one of the most popular skeins of yarn!  As I fed the fluff into the drum carder, the pile began to grow.  Cyndi was sneaking more and more little odds and ends into the basket of fluff. 🙂

photo 2 d Here is a basket of fluff that was completely random for me.  I like so much order in my life, that this one was a real challenge.  It ended up looking very nice as yarn!

photo 4 My final art batt of the day was a St. Patrick’s Day inspired one. I just through in all sorts of greens (and a few blues) and then accented the greens with a complementary color of orange.  There is so much orange glitter in that art batt that spinning it on the drum carder was insane.


photo 1 d These are Cyndi’s feet hard at work spinning my first art batt (the tulip inspired one) into yarn.  Just the little bit she had done before I had to leave the studio looked beautiful!

Until next week,

Zoe B.



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Rumpelstiltskin on the Rise

Hey Everybody!  Hope you guys have been keeping warm.  It’s been hard around here with all the snow we have been getting, but it looks like it might just turn into Spring.  The highs for the coming week are all in the 60s!  The snow was so bad last week that I wasn’t even able to make it into The Twisted Purl Studio.  When this week rolled around I was really excited to see what Cyndi had in store for me.  Since she has been really busy with school stuff for her kids, we were only able to meet once this week.  In the short time I was in the studio, I had a lot of fun.

Have any of you seen on the news or on ebay when someone makes some toast for breakfast and when it pops out it has Jesus’ face burnt onto it?  When this happens the people move to center stage on the local news, and then the Jesus burn mark food sells for oodles of money on Ebay.  I’ve heard the same thing happen with potato chips and hamburger patties.  Well, it happened to me this week.  But it wasn’t Jesus.  It was The Twisted Purl Sheep.  Whenever a soap doesn’t felt right, Cyndi cuts the felted bits off and puts them in a glass bowl in the hopes that she will one day find a way to repurpose them.  The other day, the bowl was sitting on the table in front of me.  As you can imagine, the thing is full of chunks of colorful fuzz and felted wool, as well as soap dust and chunks of broken soap.  When I peered into the basin, I was in awe.  It wasn’t Jesus that I saw in my bits of soap and fluff, but instead a perfect sheep that was delicately placed, as if it were meant for me to see.  I began to jump up and down, and I’m sure Cyndi was thinking I was having a fit, and then I showed her.  She, however, was not full of excitement like I was, but instead was full of laughter.  She told me that she has a hole punch that makes sheep shapes.  I was merely seeing a paper cut out of a sheep that had gotten lost in the glass bowl, and not some strange yarn lord presenting itself to us.  But you have to admit, it does look an awful lot like the surrounding flakes of soap.

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After the mystery of the sheep was solved, I helped Cyndi make some dryer balls and do some necessary labeling and packaging.  She is constantly shipping orders out all over the world, and it is always so interesting to see where her fiber creations are going.

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Cyndi told me that next week I will be learning how to spin.  If I’m being completely honest, this stressed me out.  Watching Cyndi spin is always so exciting, but I am a perfectionist, and I know I will be a horrible spinner to start.  Hopefully with some practice, I will be able to find spinning as fun and entertaining, instead of as the daunting task it seems to be today.  My first concern about learning how to spin had to do with worrying that I might break Cyndi’s equipment.  That would be bad.  But I was reassured when she told me that I will be learning on a drop spindle, which I can’t break.  (But let me tell you, if it CAN be broken, I’m that accident prone person who will find a way.)  Then my perfectionist side showed itself, and I started wondering why I should spin something if it won’t be great from the start?  No matter how I feel about it, I will be learning how to spin next week.  I’ve got to start somewhere.  I’ll be the newest Rumpelstiltskin in no time. 🙂

In addition to all the art I make during my time in The Twisted Purl studio, I make my own art as well.  I’m double majoring in Spanish language and studio art.  My Spanish major is never too much work (knock on wood).  Most of my time practicing the language is spent talking with my professor for a couple hours each week, conversing with others in my Spanish classes, and doing moderate amounts of paper writing and reading.  The art major on the other hand takes up almost all of my free time.  For the past three semesters of college, I have been in two studio art classes at once.  This semester I am only in one studio art class.  That class is an independent study in intermediate printmaking.  I’m also in an art history class, but I’m finding the key to that one is really just paying attention in class.  I just finished my first woodcut print edition of the semester.  Before my sophomore year of college I had never done any printmaking.  I decided to take woodcut on a whim, and it has worked out for the better.  I absolutely love it, and am doing woodcut prints for my senior art show next year.  For those of you who might have never heard of woodcut printmaking, it is a type of relief printmaking.  You carve an image into a piece of wood, roll ink onto the wood block, and then run the block and a sheet of paper through the printing press.  I just completed a three color reduction woodcut.  It isn’t the most colors I have ever done on one block, but it is the biggest block I’ve ever carved at 22in X 32in.  To do a color reduction woodcut, you have to switch something in your brain over to art-speak.  Since it is a reductive process, you have to always have the word “remove” on the tip of your tongue.  I started by drawing my image onto my board, and then carving the things I wanted to print white.  (The eyes.)  Then, I mixed a pea green color of ink and printed it 15 times.  I cleaned my board, an carved what I wanted to stay pea green.  This means I cut away the majority of my background.  Then I mixed a purple color of ink and printed on top of the previously printed 15 images.  This is when it gets tricky.  You have to line up your paper to your board EXACTLY right every single time or you get a kind of 3-D effect.  You also have to make sure you roll the same amount of ink in the same motion each time.  Since I was assigned to make an edition of 10, I had to make sure I had 10 that were exactly the same.  Margins all clean, and no 3-D looking mess ups.  After I printed the purple color, I carved what I wanted to stay purple.  This left me only with a cat face to print in black.  When it was all done I labeled them all and packaged them up to be turned in to my professor.  The title is “Sneaking” and you can see some photos of the process below.  It took me three weeks of constant work!  I’ve actually just made my first couple of sales EVER!  I sold two of these prints to a couple of facebook friends.  I’ve included a photo of Jim Boyd’s cat named Wampus Kat Kat Kat.  He bought one of the prints because of the resemblance to his cat!

cat first cat second cat thirdcat table cat cat

Until next week when I get back to The Twisted Purl Studio!

Zoe B

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New Semester and a New Year!

Hey Everyone!  I’m back!!!

After a month and a half of being home, I was ready to be back to the swing of things with classes and with The Twisted Purl.  The first 2-3 weeks of being home on break are always wonderful, but by the time my family heads back to work and school I become bored out of my mind and crave something to do other than watch TV in my pajamas!  Getting back to The Twisted Purl studio the Thursday of last week was just what I needed.  Cyndi and I launched back in with our old ways.  We asked each other about our holiday activities, then Cyndi got straight to work with explaining to me all the new things going on in the studio.  She has perfected the felted soap process, and now the soaps are better than ever, and she has made a few inventory changes.  But mostly, it felt like I had never left.  Then I told her the good news: I wrote an appeal letter to a committee here at Hendrix.  They met many times to discuss the letter, and they decided that my internship can count towards one of my credits for graduation.  So this internship is actually one of my classes!  Everything you are reading and seeing here on the blog, is actually some of my class work.

On Tuesday the real fun started.  Cyndi showed me how to dye fibers.  It was a lot like the tie-dying I did as a kid.  I made some solid colored rovings, but then Cyndi let me play.  Here are some photos of the dying process, and the finished fibers.  Cyndi even spun the two best into yarn!  I think the purple yarn with the gold string is the most beautiful.

twist   twistt   twisttttt

Hand Painted Roving by Zoe   Handspun Yarn by The Twisted Purl

Hand Painted Fiber by Zoe      Handspun Yarn by The Twisted Purl

Today was an especially fun day in the Twisted Purl studio.  Cyndi took me on a class field trip ;)!  (Woo!)  We went to Hobby Lobby, and roamed around every single isle hunting for things I could use to make a beautiful art batt to be spun into an even more beautiful yarn.  I ended up selecting some ribbon with roses, a headband, some bulky purple yarn, and some green furry yarn, which I referred to as the moss creature.  It was a lot of fun laying out my loot, and choosing bits of fluff hiding around the studio to make my very first. . . . wait for it. . . BASKET OF FLUFF!!!!!!


I selected a theme for my fluff so that I would have a solid idea of what I was looking for.  And it was just fun to see how close the yarn ended up matching the theme.  My theme was Claude Monet’s Water Lilies.  (P.S. that little rose pile of black, pink, and red was the headband I tore apart.)  Then, I turned the basket of fluff into two similar carded batts.  Do you guys think they look like the water lilies I printed out that are next to them?  Then Cyndi began spinning the batt into yarn. . . .

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We finished today with the final yarn, which I think turned out very well.  It has material in it that reminds me of moss, and pink like the flowers on the water lilies.  Over all, I think it is definitely a Monet Yarn. 🙂

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Until next week in The Twisted Purl studio!

Zoe B.

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It’s almost Christmas Time!

It’s finals time here at school, which means stress stress stress!  It also means a very irregular schedule for me at The Twisted Purl.  Luckily, next semester I will have very particular hours and will have lots to write about each week.  Sadly, it also means that my time at The Twisted Purl is coming to a close for the semester. 🙁  These past couple weeks, I went home for Thanksgiving break and got sufficiently fat and happy, and then returned to school only to get straight to work on numerous art projects, Spanish tests, and papers.  I also came back and helped make soaps!  Cyndi had over 60 orders coming in at one point!  That is a lot of soap, considering some of those orders were for 50 or more soaps.

With the ice storm that hit us this weekend, I was on strict orders from my Mom, and Cyndi, that I was not to intern when the bad weather hit.  Which means that this past Thursday was my last day for the semester.  I’m cleaning my hands of the felted soap work for 2013, but will be ready to come back in full swing in 2014.  Next semester not only will I be interning on a very particular schedule, but I will also be learning things on a schedule!  Cyndi made a really fabulous intern “syllabus” to follow, and we have only been able to touch on some of the subjects, since the soap business has been booming.  I’ll get to help with dying fibers next semester, and will also make sure I get to learn how to spin wool into yarn. 🙂

I hope that everyone has a fun Christmas with their families.  (Mine has yet to put up our Christmas tree, whoops!)  Going to head home and get ready to eat and eat and eat!  See you all next semester.


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Second Week as an Intern and Dazzle Daze

Hey Everyone!

I know it’s only Wednesday, but today concludes my second week as an intern at The Twisted Purl.  I’m going home tomorrow to go to a concert with my family, and then the next week is Thanksgiving break!  But never fear, I’ll be back to my Twisted Purl ways at the beginning of December.

This week Cyndi and I were crafting and crafting and crafting.  So much felted soap!  I think she said that she typically makes 100 a week, and that we had made 500 that week.  Wow!  And lots and lots of labeling, since there were 500 soaps to label, and some which needed to be shipped to various destinations.  I even helped with an international shipment!  Today I also helped Cyndi and her husband set up for the Dazzle Daze show.  I helped arrange product, and set up the booth.  I’ve been promised a photo of the finished booth!

Here is a photo of all of the packages Cyndi took to the post office one day.


Here are tons of dryer ball labels that I helped make!


And here is the image of labeling felted soap after soap.

Well, I’ll be sure to eat lots of good Thanksgiving food while I’m home and I’m sure all of the readers will do the same.  (Today was Thanksgiving day in the cafeteria here at my college, and I ate sooooo much pumpkin pie which really prepared me for next Thursday.)

Thanks for reading!

Zoe B