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Stop, Drop, and Draft

Hey Everyone!

This week at the Twisted Purl studio was really fun.  I started my spinning journey with my head held somewhat high, even though I knew that I was going to be in for a good struggle.  When I arrived at the studio, I helped Cyndi make some carded batts to be turned into Spring time felted soaps.  I always struggle with her requests for these kinds of colors, because I tend to be attracted to greens, dark blues, deep purples, browns, and blacks.  Here are the carded batts that I ended up making.  (Excluding the pink one, that one is waaaaay too bright to have been made by me 🙂 )  Pay close attention to the one on the top of the stack, which I worked extra hard on keeping happy and seasonal.

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After finishing up with my carded batts, it was time to learn how to spin.  Cyndi taught me on a drop spindle first, since it is much easier to control and think about as opposed to the larger, more complicated spinning wheel.  Cyndi has demonstrated several times how a drop spindle works, and each time she makes it look very easy and speedy.  Two seconds into my first attempt and the spindle was on the floor, and Cyndi was shouting “Drop!”   She likes to think it is called a drop spindle because it drops all of the time, even though it’s really just because it moves closer to the ground as you draft more and more fiber.  I continued drafting fiber, making “yarn,” and giggling while Cyndi yelled drop over and over.  Can you guys tell which one I made and which one Cyndi made?  Hint: Mine is the most creative one.  Here is also a photo of me modeling my beautiful creation.  (I told Cyndi I was sure this yarn would sell instantly. 🙂 NOT!)

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I’m practicing intermittently as I type this post.  I’m getting a little bit better.   I am mostly actually spinning the fibers now, instead of just wrapping them around the drop spindle.  Next week, if I am good enough at the drop spindle, I’ll get to try my hand at the spinning wheel.  I’m going to look like such a pro just sitting there, I’m so sure. 🙂  Here is the stage I’m to in my house. adfsdfs

It’s starting to look so much better!  This experience of learning how to spin just makes me appreciate what Cyndi does so much more.  It’s hard work!  And she is able to do it while watching TV and holding a conversation.  Impressive!

See you guys next week!

Zoe B.

 

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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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Hearts and Stars

This past week, I gathered material for and carded my first ever themed art batt! It took me awhile (big surprise) to choose my theme, but after viewing some photographs in my friend’s astronomy textbook, all my stars seemed to align. I knew my destiny: to create a galaxy-themed yarn.

Pretty pretty images like this served as my guide:

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With stardust in our heads, Cyndi and I journeyed to Hobby Lobby, searching for various materials and colors to deconstruct in the drum carder. The added material would serve to make the space-yarn as funky and textured as possible.

As usual, it took me ages to card the art batt.  Surely I was blending enough fluff for like 200 yards of yarn, I thought.  But no, I ended up with less than Cyndi’s 100 yard average, and it took about three times as long to do so.  (She’s a pro, what can I say.)  But here’s the result:

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Cyndi sent me a link to her Instagram post of my star-fluff (I don’t have my own Instagram– I can’t decide whether to get one or not… I love photographing so it would probably take over my life (Also I need to charge my phone)). Anyway, I was very pleased with my star-fluff, and excited to see it in yarn form.  I had to leave before Cyndi had time to spin it (I won’t go into the details, but there was a lot of  weird stuff going on that Tuesday; the fireplace, printer, a necklace, and a power outlet were involved).  A few days later Cyndi sent me a text with a picture of the yarn, and said it sold in about five minutes. I was over the moon.

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I love it I love it I love it! Next time I will have to be sure and add larger amounts of fiber into the drum carder, though, so more yarn can be spun.

Friday (VALENTINE’S DAY– MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY) Cyndi and I wrapped some fluff into dryer balls, and discussed social media and internet presence.  We will continue this conversation next week, as I definitely have a lot to learn.  At this point in my life, with my studies, jobs, and internship taking up almost all of my “free” time, I’ve decided to forgo having any sites of my own (including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter).  One day, especially if I have my own business, knowing how to post on and navigate sites like these will be crucial to my success.  Amidst tips and bits of information on social media, Cyndi informed me of something perhaps even more important: the existence of heart-shaped pizzas on V-Day. I was higher than over the moon.  I was over the Milky Way. My life, I said, would never be the same. Seizing the moment, Cyndi immediately called Papa Johns and I placed an order. Later that day I gave the pizza away as a Valentine’s gift to two of my friends, complete with M&M lettering, Princess Diaries style.  My time at The Twisted Purl also inspired another one of my Valentine’s Day surprises, this one to my roommate:

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A yarn-bombed kitchen!  I didn’t have much time before she woke up, or it would have been much more extreme.

And finally, my lovely friends threw me a surprise Valentine’s Day party. One of them picked me up for our “date,” blindfolded me, and drove me around Conway for half an hour.  When I took the blindfold off, we were in another friend’s apartment. Most of my closest friends were there. They told me it was Kate’s Day, made me dinner, and gave me presents and wine.  They also made me these adorable sheep cupcakes:

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BEST DAY EVER. Thanks to Cyndi and The Twisted Purl for starting it off right.  In all of my busy-ness, I sometimes forget how blessed I truly am.  I’m studying at a great school, I have the kindest of friends, two flexible, paying jobs, and a lovely, gratifying internship. I’m living the life.

<3 * <3 * <3

 

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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.

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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!!!!!!

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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.