“Every production of genius must be the production of enthusiasm.”
Have you ever noticed that when you do something you enjoy, it doesn’t seem like work? I’ve been so lucky to do what I love most of my life as work. I started out as a dressmaker (trained) and did that for many many years. I loved it, until one day, I didn’t. I vowed I would never sew again for anyone who lost weight, gained weight, changed their minds or retained water. I sewed mostly for the church then. The altar never changed shape, the vestments were standard and the linens needed a bit of repair now and again or a bit of embroidery. It was satisfying when I needed it and I loved the transition then. These memories came back as I was straightening up my fiber studio and unearthing boxes of goodies that I hadn’t seen forever. Here’s one entry in my log book. I used to be so organized!I was so lucky to be able to sew for my family and friends over the years and I loved every single stitch. They loved it too. Boy do I miss it. Nothing makes you better than practice and doing something every day. I know Jay misses me sewing. I’ll never forget the day that I was musing, many years ago how I just needed something that I could “whip up quickly”, sell a lot of and that could be my bread and butter and could continue custom work. This was way before the internet. His answer? A navy blue sports jacket. I think he missed the point, but yes, I made him the sport jacket. I never did find that thing, until now. I think. As I was organizing, putting things away and generally trying to get my system more operational, I rediscovered these 8″ alpaca felt circles that Diana Lasa Blair from Going to the Sun Fiber Mill made for me. I sent her a load of fiber and she made rug yarn and these little treasures for me. I’ve been spending evenings embellishing the square ones. A few nights ago I searched for popular ways to embellish felt and came up with a genius idea. Sell them plain and let people do it themselves. I started to look at what I have in a different way. This will call for a site redesign and I’m up for it! Stay tuned.
I’ve been elbow deep in fiber and ideas lately and I have to say that it feels incredible! Not just the fiber, but the ideas that start to flow. Looking out at my team this morning, I’ll congratulate them on a job well done of growing their fiber over the year!
In the coming posts, I’ll take you with me as I process the fiber. It’s really incredible and NOTHING is wasted.
* I NEED TO ADD THAT THIS IS MY METHOD AND THAT EVERYONE PREPARES FIBER THEIR OWN WAY. THIS IS MINE.*
As the shearer shears, we sort through the fiber. First he shears the blanket or main body of the alpaca. We scoop that into a bag and sometimes have time to get the straggly edges and second cuts off. Next he does the legs and neck. This is not quite as pretty and needs further sorting. Then he cleans up and the rest is junk or thirds as it’s called. He does every animal the same only stopping if there is a medical need or comes across something interesting. We do shots and skin treatments, trim toenails and teeth if needed at this time. Then the fun begins.
There are 2, sometimes 3 bags of fiber for each animal. If the weather is nice when we finish, I skirt (pick through) first, but if it’s damp, how it is now, I blow it first.
Here’s a quick video of skirting.
Someone asked what I meant by blowing the fiber. All it really is is a way to get the second cuts -where the shearer may have gone over twice with his shears and gotten some short bits-and dust out of the fiber to reduce the waste of water used in washing. Some people have fancy Fiber Tumblers but I like the “use what you have to make what you need” philosophy and use my mesh wagon, an old screen, some rocks and my leaf blower. Works fine. I could use a bigger wagon-some day! Here’s a video of that. It’s all before it gets soaked. Cuts down on time and water.
This is what I’ll be doing today, or at least this morning. I like to get the blowing done when it’s dry. I can wash in small batches and have been. When my fiber room is completely organized, I’ll give you a panoramic view. Right now, it’s getting there, but not yet.
Can you see it? Life imitating art? Our friend Leo gave us this resin squirrel that we thought may keep the squirrels away from Jay’s bird feeders. I think he made a friend! I have some transplanting to do today. Madison’s are in the background and are doing much better than mine! That girl has the touch.
I bought these tea pods from a fundraiser. They say right on it that they work in the Keurig. The Keurig disagrees. I made it work.
I won’t regale you today with my health. I’ve taken Jay’s advice and am keeping a journal and hopefully the answer will be clear in a few days.
￼In the meantime, remember to wash your hands, don’t touch your face, stay home but if you MUST go out, wear a mask and keep the length of an alpaca cria (which is a baby alpaca and about 3 feet long) between you and the next person.