A visit to Walker Homestead

A few weeks ago we paid a visit to Walker Homestead, a local primitives place featuring locally grown, natural decorations, antiques and the like in an 1698 house in Brookfield, MA. Kris and Paul Casucci are the proprietors and have the able Celeste as helper extraordinaire.

The weekend of November 16 through 18, 2012 is their annual New England Christmas by the Hearthside and you are kindly invited to visit. We thought you'd like a preview in the way of some pictures from my October visit. Please check their website for more information.

Yes, that's a chicken on her shoulder. Miss Chickie, to be exact. Ask them about her if you visit.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Carding with tulle

Many of our readers are fiber artists. They hook rugs, stitch, knit or crochet, weave and spin. Many of the spinners eventually succumb to the romance of processing their own fiber, be it wool, angora, mohair, alpaca or some other delight.

Carding is one of the first steps in processing after washing, if that is necessary. One of the most common problems they encounter is removing the carded batt from the main drum without destroying it or leaving behind lots of fiber. The method shown below helps a great deal with this when carding  very fine fibers. I've illustrated the steps using some of my home-grown angora.

First,  apply some ordinary nylon tulle, cut to fit, to the main drum by slowly placing it on top and turning slowly.

You can see that the tulle is sitting on top of the points. Do not force it down or you risk damage.

Now you're ready to start  carding. This is some shorn angora.

Start feeding the fiber into the licker-in.

The next  two images show the fiber being carded.

Finished? Now remove the batt by splitting it at the break in the points, then slowly and carefully lifting the tulle off the drum.

I hope that helps!

Autumn Activities in our area

Autumn is a busy time of year for craftspeople here in New England. One of the highly anticipated local events is the Backroads Studio Tour. The public is welcome into many area studios to see how the artisans work and to view a sampling of their crafts. The public also has the opportunity to purchase directly from the artisans. It's a win-win situation. This year's tour was blessed with gorgeous weather on Saturday. I took some pictures to share with you over the next few days. Today's are of Garine Arakelian of Kulina Folk Art/Pied Potter Hamelin. Garine and her husband Rick Hamelin make traditional American redware pottery, all either hand-thrown or drape-molded. All glazes are lead-free and suitable for the dinner table. You can read more about Garine and Rick and their pottery on their website, www.americanredware.com .


Are you ready?

Have you been studying your photos? Have you picked out colors you would like to work with? HAVE NO FEAR! We're only going to make a small rug. Very small. No matter what colors you want to play with, you will not be penalized if no one else likes them. You will learn lots about what pleases YOU. Take the leap and go with your gut. Now that you have colors in mind, you need to assemble your materials. Don't worry about everything "going together." The whole point is to be surprised with what can work when you think it may not. I am going to hook a small piece, so I've drawn, with a fine point marker,  a simple pattern on a piece of linen. Actually, it's the backside of a pattern I didn't print on the straight. (We never sell such sins!) You'll notice that I have hooked a bit and pulled it out (the noticeable holes in the backing). Yes, you can "reverse hook" this way with no detriment to the backing. My pattern is about 9 1/2" x 17". You can make yours any size you like. Maybe you want to dip your toe into the waters with a smaller piece. I think about 8" square is the smallest you should go if you are planning on hooking with #8 (1/4") strips of wool. That way, you can fit in enough detail to make the experiment satisfactory. Here is the homely start of my little rug.


Where do you find inspiration?

     Is it in a line-up of your happy shoes?

     Is it in a stack of pretty sachets?

     Is it in colorful table linens?

     Get out your camera and capture some images of things
     that please you from your own environment.  Over
     the next few weeks you will use those images to play
     with color and design.

     As you work out your own project, I will develop mine.
     You can do this in stitchery or rug hooking or whichever
     of the gentle arts is calling to you right now.

     I think this is going to be fun!

Getting to know you

Hello!  We have been wanting to get to know you better and what better way is there to accomplish that than for you to get to know us, too?  Doing business on the world wide web is great but lacks the satisfaction of the personal touch so we intend to fix that with some behind the scenes information.

I’m often asked if I teach rug hooking and the answer is “Yes,” although not as often as I used to or as often as I’d like.  Dyeing wool and running a family business demands lots of time, but I do fit in workshops from time to time.

A couple of months ago, DeeAnn, owner of KnitWitts in Brookfield, MA, had me in to teach a beginner class; we used strips of wool and some lovely yarns.  I will be posting some hints for hooking with yarns soon on the website.  In the meantime, here are a couple of shots of the KnitWitts class.

Me and Jean hard at work
Me and Jean hard at work
explaining technique
explaining technique