Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Space To Call My Own

This is what a finished, tidy fiber studio looks like:

The painting is finished and dry, the curtains are hung, the furniture and equipment is all back in place. The only thing missing is my wheel, which was still downstairs in the living room when these photos were taken last night. Even the desk is clean! This state of affairs lasted 15 minutes--about the time it took to snap the pictures, complete with the happy artist standing in the doorway of her studio.

As lovely as a clean studio looks, it doesn't stay that way for very long because I need to work. The current work is finishing the picking and carding of nearly all the washed fiber I still have. There are two fleeces I'm not touching: the white Border Leicester cross that I carefully washed by the lock is done until I start to use the locks; and the black Romney I bought from Ace Vandernack a couple years ago that is awaiting combing. However, there's more than enough for me to do right now.

One of the tasks I set myself this week was to go through the fiber stash thoroughly, both to check on the condition of my fibers, and to refresh my memory regarding what I currently have. It's quite a bit of fiber, including:

  • 1/2 a black Jacob
  • a moorit Border Leicester
  • the above-mentioned black Romney
  • the above-mentioned white Border Leicester/Corridale/Merino
  • a black Merino, already turned to pin-draft
  • a Romney/Coopworth hogget, turned to batts
and lesser amounts (usually a pound of each) of dyed merino, superwash merino, gray Shetland, black Shetland, Leicester, Jacob, Gotland, and Blue-Faced Leicester tops. All in all, it's a lot of fiber, enough to keep me spinning for a while.

However, fibers have to be made ready to spin before they can be spun, so I'm picking and carding the moorit Border Leicester and the Jacob. Quite frankly, I had forgotten I had that fleece--I carded half of it on Joan Kintcher's big Duncan double-wide motorized carder in 1997, and although I washed the other half of the fleece, I hadn't carded it when I stopped attending the spinning class. The remaining fleece, stored in a bin, has sat since that time, waiting for me to remember that it was there. I pulled it out and checked it, and it's fine; more than I can say for the yarn I did spin from this fleece (it was attacked by moths and was thrown out several years ago).

The Jacob is completely different than the Border Leicester--it's soft and bouncy, more like a Down sheep than the longwools I've been handling recently. Picking it is different--it jack-rabbits through the picker and into the box, so it doesn't take long to fill the box with fiber to be carded. Carding takes time and muscles--I've discovered that I can pick enough fiber to fill the box in less than ten minutes, but it can take 20-30 minutes to card that same fiber. It's work to do the carding, and I find myself wishing I had a motorized carder to make the job easier, but I know it will be done (eventually), and I can relax.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ten Percent

Why is it that the last ten percent of any project seems to take as long as the first ninety percent? I'm finding that's truly the case with finishing the studio. I'm ninety percent finished, but I just can't seem to get the last few little things finished.

Part of the delay might have been a weekend full of delightful interruptions. After writing the last entry, I went back and was able to put on the final coat of trim paint before falling into first the shower and then into bed. On Friday morning, I started putting the studio back in order. First on the list: replace the light fixture with the new light ordered from Rejuvenation Lighting, our favorite source for period lighting fixture. We went with a very classic flush-mount ceiling fixture and a "school house" shade similar to others in the house. Once that was installed, we put the bookcases back against the wall, this time with holes cut for access to the blocked outlets. For the first time in fifteen years, I have electric power on the far wall! Everything else went into place slowly, as I carefully cleaned behind, under, and around each item before it was put into place. I finished most of the furniture moving by Friday afternoon, and called it a day; I had a spinning group meeting to attend!

Saturday, I spent the day in a spinning workshop taught by renowned fiber artist Judith MacKenzie McCuin. She teaches a workshop and gives a lecture to the guild every March; this year's workshop topic was "Fleece Evaluation," and we spent the day looking at different fleeces and wool, spinning some of them, and carting away baskets of samples. It was a good workshop for everyone, and we are all now filled with enthusiasm for the Black Sheep Gathering's big wool show and sale in June.

After the workshop, I dropped Jane off at her house and began the shopping to finish the studio. A trip to IKEA netted new curtain rods and two picture frames, but the hardware store was closed by the time I finally got there at 7:45 p.m. (they closed at 6:00). I was in Pinole, on my way home, when I suddenly thought: Orchard Supply Hardware! Sure enough, they were still open, and a bevy of bored store clerks were more than willing to help me find the odd litle items (1/4-20 wing nuts, a small sink plunger, and picture rail hooks) still on my list. They were so sweet and patient--I was so tired after two days of moving furniture and spinning that I was punchy--and I was soon on my way home with more items crossed off my list.

Sunday dawned and I hustled back down to the East Bay for the Spindles & Flyers meeting and lecture by Judith on the development of different sheep breeds. The meeting was packed, the talk informative, and when it was over, I went back over to the hardware store (now open) to get the last item on the list: picture hooks. No such luck--the only picture hooks available were inexpensive stamped brass that I know better than to use (they don't stay on the picture rail). At some point, I'll have to order more hooks from Rejuvenation Lighting, but I have to be miserly with the hooks I currently have.

After two more days of putting things away, hemming curtains, and running errands, the studio is nearly complete. I've done some rearranging of storage, so I need to make another trip to IKEA to get more little wooden storage cabinets and baskets for the shelves, then finish putting the last things away. I have two fleeces out to pick and card once the studio reaches 100%.