Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fiber Show, Chicago Time

Well, it is 5:30am and I am up!  The only problem is I am in Chicago sharing a hotel room with my husband and daughter, and it's just 4:30am here ...  I found coffee, a newspaper, and a little Business Center with a computer so I am set. 

I am here to be a vendor at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Show at Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake, Illinois.  It is a three day show and sounds wonderful, with lots of vendors, classes, workshops, give-aways, demonstrations, garment competitions, even a fashion show!

Today is set-up day.  We are assigned set-up times according to where our booth is located.  I'm scheduled at 9:15, should be finished by noon if not sooner, then we plan on taking the train into the city.  My husband's sister lives here so we plan on spending the rest of the day with her, checking out Navy Pier, the Sears Tower, the Magnificent Mile, and whatever else we stumble upon. 

It will be a working vacation, mostly working, but it is great to have a little get-away and change of scenery.  My daughter will have a chance to get to know her cousins who she hasn't see in years!

Experience Chicago: a travel guide (2010)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Plying With Beads

  Although stringing the beads was a bit challenging, and manipulating my single fiber strand without getting it tangled in the strung beads during the playing process could have made me crazy, I was very pleased with the end results!

 These are the hand-dyed Suri Locks that I started with. 

 I spun carelessly from uncarded locks not worrying about any kind of uniformity.  I felt like a kid going out to recess, playtime!

 Once I got a rhythm going and coordinated pushing a bead forward when  I was ready for one, the plying flowed smoothly.

I used my Louet Spinning Wheel, versus my little electric spinner, because I needed to stop and start frequently.  My Louet gave me the control I needed without having to turn it off and on.

 I named it, as I do all my yarns, "Pretty As A Princess".

Stefanie Berganini has written some good instructions on spinning this kind of artyarn- click Plying With Beads
on the Spin-Off Magazine website.

Get Spun: The Step-by-Step Guide to Spinning Art Yarns 
This looks like a book I ought to have!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Alpacas and Daylilies

I love my alpacas.  Not only are they gentle, passive, interesting, majestic creatures each with their own personality, but they provide beautiful, luxurious fleeces that allow me to engage in many creative endeavors using their fiber, which then helps to feed my family, but best of all feeds my soul ...

Okay, that was deep!  Alpacas also produce manure, and it is great stuff ...  I have used it as fertilizer many places on our farm, some of which I wish I hadn't, as I now have enormous bushes around my house that have grown so fast they'll probably have to be dug out sometime soon.

I also have beautiful flowers, thanks to my alpacas.  And I learned a little about daylilies today...

This is the now-famous daylily that started the race to the "rebloomers." The name Stella d'Oro translates to "Star of Gold".

Today, it's a national trend, and "Stella" is the number one daylily in the country.  Many gardeners say their "Stellas" are in bloom practically all summer and fall. And this is why this variety is planted almost everywhere now--you'll see them in median strips on interstates and in almost all good commercial landscaping, even at gas stations and fast food restaurants.

This all tells you that this is a no-maintenance, and I am into no-maintenance, easy-bloom perennial--what better reason to add it to your garden!

 It all started with the original "wild" orange daylily. Many Americans think the tough old orange daylily they see in old gardens and along roadsides is a wildflower, but it really isn't. No daylily is native to North America; most hail from Asia. 

Daylilies are not really "lilies." In fact, they are quite different. True lilies grow on tall stems with flowers at the top.

Daylily flower stems (called "scapes") are generally much shorter, and grow from a fountain of grass-like foliage at ground level.  

Daylilies don't grow from bulbs like true lilies. Daylilies form a mass of thickened, fleshy roots. These unique root systems hold so much moisture and nutrients, the plants can survive out of the ground for weeks. This survival system, making them tough, and really easy to handle, is one of the reasons they're so popular today. They're also dependably hardy, so once you have them, you have them for years.

The famous old orange daylily and the well-known old Lemon Lily are not the only "wild" daylilies, just the most famous. There are 20 daylily species, worldwide. Today from those 20 plants, more than 20,000 hybrids have been created, to satisfy gardeners who love daylilies, and just can't get enough.

The New Encyclopedia of Daylilies: More Than 1700 Outstanding Selections

Today's craze for reblooming daylilies all began with Stella d'Oro, the now-famous yellow dwarf daylily that blooms once during late spring and then again in late August and into fall.

Daylilies: The Perfect Perennial