Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Circle of Life

Today was my last evening shift of checking on the alpacas before I leave Whitemariah and peaches Violet, on the 22nd. Sadly, Mariah has not improved and Tracy has decided that it would be best for Mariah to be put down since she can’t live the way an alpaca should be able to live. The vet will come on Monday and put her to sleep and then she will be taken to Purdue so a necropsy can be performed to find out the cause of her illness. Today her body temperature has been low and you can tell that she doesn’t feel well. She isn’t eating or drinking and is pretty lethargic; just laying in her stall and not moving around at all. Tonight I put her on a heated dog pad to try and make her more comfortable and it did raise her body temp a tiny bit from early this afternoon when I checked it. I hope that she leaves this life on her own terms before Monday and will find Schroeder in a grassy field somewhere over the rainbow bridge where they can run and play. She needs to be at peace after being sick for a while now.
This afternoon was the nuno felting workshop. It was a lot of fun. To get started, lay a long piece of bubble wrap (bubbles facing up) on a table. nuno - step 1The first step is to take a piece of silk and lay out the fringe pieces on each end, letting about 1.5” overlap onto the silk.

nuno with fiber
I chose black silk and purple for my accent color. Next, you take your fiber in wispy little sections and cover the silk, extending over the sides of the fabric and onto the fringe (all of the elements need to felt together so that is why you overlap onto the fringe). You want to make sure the whole thing is covered but you can’t lay it on too thick or it won’t felt together.

nuno - creating the design
Then the accent color is laid on; again in wispy streaks on the fiber, making sure to go out onto the fringe to make it all cohesive. Using warm water and a tiny bit of Dawn, in a squirt bottle (see in the foreground), wet down the project using zig zag motions up and down the table.

nuno - the flip to other side
Lay another piece of bubble wrap (bubbles facing towards the fabric) on top. Wet the top of the bubble wrap and rub gently to start the felting process. Remove the bubble wrap and fold in your sides to make a nice straight edge. Rub a little bit more to help felt it. Gently fold it all up and flip it over. Cover the blank side of the silk with wispy pieces of fiber, not worrying about the edges since you covered those on the front side. Put your accent colors on again to cover the backside.
Wet the top of the fabric and place the bubble wrap over it and wet that down. Start to rub the surface and check again to see how your edges look.
Now you take a rolling pin or a piece of swimming pool noodle and roll your projectnuno result onto it. After about 150 rolls inside a towel (to catch all the water that comes running out from inside), it’s almost done. Twenty throws onto the table and then you head to the sink to rinse the soap out of your newly felted scarf. Some tying of the fringe and steaming to finish it off and you’ve got the finished product.
nuno scarf
It’s hard to see the coloring on mine (on the left) but you can see how pretty Cindy’s turned out. Cindy is a Methodist minister, from Minnesota, who is here until March. She works with the alpacas and wants to go back to Minnesota and create a farm where non-violent offenders, who are released from prison, can learn new skills and become productive citizens again upon their release from jail. She’s learning to spin yarn with me and wants to learn how to weave too.
The scarf is so lightweight, only weighing around an ounce and it makes a gorgeous, wispy accent piece to wear. Our instructor makes material and creates jackets, using nuno felting, and sells them for $900. Scarfs, like we made today, sell for $60. It was another neat craft to learn about and I’m glad I got to attend the workshop since it filled up so quickly. They have enough people on a waiting list to run another workshop soon. Debby, the instructor, currently has 98 alpacas on her farm and she dyes a lot of her fiber and uses it in all of her projects. Wow, that would be a lot of alpacas to care for, shear and deal with the fiber (keep in mind you get two bags of fiber each time you shear. A blanket fleece and the 2nds so that’s almost 200 bags each spring when she shears.)
Cindy and I continue to spin and this week we learned how to ply two balls of yarncindy making ball of yarn together. Here’s Cindy taking a skein and making it into a ball of yarn so it can be plied. I can’t wait to make something out of the yarn I’ve spun. The initial yarn, when you learn to spin, is chunky and often referred to as “art yarn” since we were inexperienced when we did it. Once you refine your spinning skills, you can get the strand pretty thin and much more consistent. I find it very therapeutic to spin but don’t think I’d ever buy a spinning wheel due to the price and space they take up. I’m still hoping to get a loom at some point but want to work with it some more to decide the size that would be best for us.
Time for bed…so anxious for Linda to get here with the rig so I can see her. It’s been 4 long months since I last saw her ! She was going to leave Sunday morning but this afternoon she couldn’t get the steps to retract so she has to take the rig back to the RV shop Monday morning and hope it’s a quick fix so she can get on the road. Hopefully she’ll still get here on Tuesday….please pray that she has safe travels from Pennsylvania to Indiana.

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