Spinzilla 2016

I produced a few miles of hand spun yarn for weavings during Spinzilla this year.  I also accomplished my goals to spin incredibly thin, consistent yarn as well as plied textural yarn from raw fleece.  And in an effort to share crafts outside the art community, I spun some yarn on our mountain top.

Precariously spinning yarn on a boulder overlooking the Rocky Mountains.

Precariously spinning yarn on a boulder overlooking the Rocky Mountains.

2016 Begins

After a really busy year last year, and a very exciting start to 2016, it is looking like this year will be just about as busy.  Luckily, now I have a forever home to be returning to and a wonderful studio to be weaving in throughout the year.

2016 began with my really exciting assistantship and residency at Penland.  Now I'm happily weaving at home, which has the added benefit of the beautiful Colorado hiking and skiing when I take a break from my studio work.  Next month a picture of my work on the loom will be appearing in American Craft Magazine thanks to their #YourRightBrainIsCalling challenge!  Then, before I know it I'll be off to the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences for a weaving and natural dyeing residency.  Hambidge is one of the oldest artist communities in the country, and it was established by Mary Hambidge who became a fulltime weaver almost 100 years ago.  I can't wait for the privilege to work there, with the rich weaving history and the bucolic acreage.  Who knows, maybe another exciting opportunity or two might materialize for the rest of 2016 as well!?

This was one of the first sunsets here in Colorado after I arrived home for the first time in 2016.

This was one of the first sunsets here in Colorado after I arrived home for the first time in 2016.

30 Miles and 30 Yards

I like to think of everything in terms of numbers.  It helps me grasp what I've been working on, and frankly, it's just amusing too.

I had a fantastically productive start to 2016.  I was lucky enough to be the textiles studio assistant and winter resident at Penland School of Crafts this January!  It was a wonderful experience and I was able to accomplish more than I ever imagined.  I'm always productive at Penland, but after all the craziness of 2015, I was especially ready to focus and accomplish as much as possible while I was there in their incredible studios.  I wove approximately 30 yards on the loom and naturally dyed 30 miles of fiber to weave this year!  (I had trouble wrapping my mind around the tens of thousands of yards of fiber, so translating it to miles helps me comprehend the absurdity.)  Additionally, I began a new body of woven work, and I'm really excited to be continuing it currently in my studio now that I'm back home.

I hope to write more about my Penland experience soon, but in the meantime, here is a quick photo preview:

Sunlight and shadows on one of my weavings on the loom.

Sunlight and shadows on one of my weavings on the loom.

Magical Penland skies outside the studio.

Magical Penland skies outside the studio.

Penland's former dye shed in the snow.

Penland's former dye shed in the snow.

A few skeins of the hundreds of skeins of yarn I naturally dyed drying in the window.

A few skeins of the hundreds of skeins of yarn I naturally dyed drying in the window.

Weaving with linen and horsehair.  I'm happiest at the loom!

Weaving with linen and horsehair.  I'm happiest at the loom!

 

 

2015

2015 was a big year, both personally and professionally...

My incredible studio!

My incredible studio!

It was the year I committed to starting my new career as a weaver and fiber artist, and also the year we ended up moving across the country (again!).  Even though we moved (and it turned out to be two moves, selling a home, buying a home, and so much more), I decided to stay committed to my new journey in textiles.  In spite of all the chaos, I managed to complete two artist residencies, receive the Dr. Judith Temple Scholarship, take courses on spinning, start my website and instagram, establish my own studio, and weave and spin like crazy.  Looking back, I have no idea how we fit it all in, but I'm glad we figured it out, and I'm super grateful to have a teammate who also prioritizes my practice.

Subtle double rainbow from our backyard shortly after we moved into our new (almost a century old) house.

Subtle double rainbow from our backyard shortly after we moved into our new (almost a century old) house.

Oh yeah, and we also fostered a giant ball of love from a high kill shelter and he's now happily in his forever home too.

This giant darling loves and admires everyone he meets.

This giant darling loves and admires everyone he meets.

Perhaps it was the year of the forever homes!  More soon...

10101 Yards

Last week I made 10101 yards of hand spun yarn.  I knew the Spinzilla competition would help ensure I started working in my new studio right away, and help improve my spinning skills, but I had no idea just how much I could produce.  In fact, even though I prepped hundreds of rolags and had pounds of rescue sheep roving on hand, I quickly turned it all into yarn and wished I had prepped even more.  Who knew I could spin almost a mile a day!?  If I do it again, I think my goal will be a mile of hand spun yarn a day.  Regardless, I'm really proud of my 10101 yards, especially since I learned how to spin less than three months ago.  Now I get to weave and natural dye all the lovely new yarn!  And all that practice certainly made spinning much, much easier.  Most of the yarn was designed specifically for some exciting upcoming weavings.  Now that it's done and all my equipment is in my new studio, it won't be long before I'll be sharing images of my new series of work.

Days of the Spinzilla Week!  Monday is the top step and Sunday is the last step.  All the skeins of yarn are there except one that somehow managed to escape the photography.

Days of the Spinzilla Week!  Monday is the top step and Sunday is the last step.  All the skeins of yarn are there except one that somehow managed to escape the photography.

My lovely assistant was more than happy to photobomb these pictures, sleep in the prepped wool, and sniffvestigate the new yarn throughout the week.

My lovely assistant was more than happy to photobomb these pictures, sleep in the prepped wool, and sniffvestigate the new yarn throughout the week.

I tried to arrange the yarn so I could see just how much fiber it was, but the sun had other plans.  Regardless, it was easy to see how my skills improved over the course of the week.  It turns out I made enough yarn to go from the top of the mountain where we live to the base.

I tried to arrange the yarn so I could see just how much fiber it was, but the sun had other plans.  Regardless, it was easy to see how my skills improved over the course of the week.  It turns out I made enough yarn to go from the top of the mountain where we live to the base.

I really surprised myself when I saw how much yarn I created in only a week.

I really surprised myself when I saw how much yarn I created in only a week.

The icelandic wool I spun on the very first day fit in perfectly with our beautiful trees.

The icelandic wool I spun on the very first day fit in perfectly with our beautiful trees.

Studio & Spinzilla Delay

I haven't been posting lately because I just moved all my equipment and materials into my new studio, and last week I completed a spinning competition as well.  Needless to say, things have been wonderfully busy here, and I'm really glad to be home setting up my studio.  I also just acquired a spectacular new-to-me loom, in addition to the wonderful spinning wheel and drum carder my husband was kind enough to get while I was out of the country during my residency.  Craigslist truly is a treasure trove to those who are determined and patient.  It's a very exciting time here and I'll be posting more about my new studio, my art, and the rest of my time in Iceland very soon.  Thanks for your patience during this exciting transition!

More Nature

When I'm not working inside with fibers, I'm most likely outside looking at all the little details in nature.  

Juxtaposition

Iceland is an incredible place of stunning fjords and nasty smelters, happy sheep alongside tragic whaling, and gorgeous skies against crumbling factories.  Being in Iceland for a longer period of time, and living in a tiny agricultural town means more time with the less spectacular side of the stunning place.  The juxtaposition itself is sometimes the most interesting part.  In this town, one of the most beautiful vistas is right up against a junkyard, and the the whimsical cottongrass is growing right in front of a giant slaughterhouse.  One of my favorite moments was when we were looking at the amazing glacial carved mountains and a local pulled up to the gas station on a lawnmower.  There is a lot of beauty to be found in the juxtaposition and we had a great time exploring.

Sparkle Picnic

We had been hoping to go on a sparkle picnic for a bit, and we finally made it happen as our farewell for Emelie.  At this point, it was only the three of us in the house, and it was a hilarious combination of silliness, productivity, and happiness.  What better way to say goodbye to Emelie than a sparkle picnic on the island!?

Heimilisiðnaðarsafnið, The Textile Museum

One of the best assets of the residency is the proximity to the wonderful Heimilisiðnaðarsafnið, or Textile Musem, next door.  It is filled with all kinds of fiber equipment, historic Icelandic textiles, and amazing older photographs.  The director was even kind enough to let us borrow tools from their exhibit once they closed for the season since the textile residency didn't have functioning equipment.  It's a wonderful place filled with information and inspiration.  ...And one loom labeled out of order in astronomically better condition than all of the looms at the residency.  It made us giggle.  As usual, it was fun to explore and have great conversations with the other residents too!

The Good and The Bad

There are positives and negatives about everything, but I must say, the unannounced tours were one of my lease favorite parts of this residency.  Without notice, groups would appear to tour our living quarters or suddenly be staring at us in the studio.  On this otherwise lovely Sunday morning, a tour bus arrived and the people piled into our house.  I decided it was time to leave and laughed as this is what I saw when I swung the door open.

The dreaded unannounced tour bus of home invaders.

The dreaded unannounced tour bus of home invaders.

Subtle Aurora

"THIS IS NOT A DRILL!?!?"  Our first aurora sighting may not have been dramatic, but it was fun anyway.  The three of us RAN out of the house to the darkest part of town.  Luckily we saw dancing green aurora on the horizon throughout our whole run.  Unluckily, the show was basically over when we arrived.  I was glad to have seen them, and in such great company too.  Spoiler alert: Spectacular and unbelievable aurora appeared another night...

Subtle aurora are still beautiful.

Subtle aurora are still beautiful.

A fellow resident hoping they come back.

A fellow resident hoping they come back.

Occasionally we would baaaaarely see the aurora dancing in the still not quite dark enough sky.

Occasionally we would baaaaarely see the aurora dancing in the still not quite dark enough sky.

Since the aurora were barely discernible, I focused my attention to the crazy clouds illuminated by the moon.

Since the aurora were barely discernible, I focused my attention to the crazy clouds illuminated by the moon.

Walking back to the residency...freezing.

Walking back to the residency...freezing.

A party shot in the least party-like environment ever.

A party shot in the least party-like environment ever.

The residency looked extra witchy when we returned.

The residency looked extra witchy when we returned.

Icelandic Wool

The kind lady from Þingborg asked me if I could wait a bit for the second part of my wool delivery.  I still had plenty from her first beautiful shipment, so I said of course.  She said she had some extra beautiful lambswool that she had to hand wash.  I excitedly awaited the second shipment, and it did not disappoint.  The gorgeous, varied, natural colors are perfect for my dimensional weaving.  The locks are incredibly beautiful.

I have a special weaving planned for this fleece already.

I have a special weaving planned for this fleece already.

I feel really lucky she found me some white Icelandic lambswool this late in the season.  The sunset really shows off this special wool.

I feel really lucky she found me some white Icelandic lambswool this late in the season.  The sunset really shows off this special wool.

Waves and Snow

I love watching waves crash against rocks.  I was also really excited to see the early snow on the Westfjords.

Textílsetur Swim Team

A lot of people do swim in Iceland...but most people swim in the geothermal pools and natural hot springs.  My amazing fellow residents decided instead to swim where a glacial river meets a fjord.  Don't be fooled, the day looked lovely, but it was quite cool outside too.

The setting.

The setting.

Swimmer One.

Swimmer One.

Swimmer Two.

Swimmer Two.

One Swimmer, Two Swimmers, Pink Swimmer, Sparkle Swimmer.

One Swimmer, Two Swimmers, Pink Swimmer, Sparkle Swimmer.

Running into the barely-above-freezing water.

Running into the barely-above-freezing water.

A successful summer swim!

A successful summer swim!

Beautiful black sand beach.

Beautiful black sand beach.

Þræði

Þræði, to thread, was our group exhibition.  It was fun to see everyone's work on gallery walls, and it was nice to see the array of artwork displayed together.  A future collaboration even came out of this exhibit, so I'm really excited to continue developing that as well.

Icelandic Fog, Kim Mirus, 2015 I used Icelandic wool to carefully card and handspin this gradient into the yarn.  It was then woven with carefully sourced wool from a small farm of happy sheep, and hung from a piece of driftwood that arrived as I finished the piece.  This piece serves as an extensive study that will inform my next pieces woven from my handspun yarn.

Icelandic Fog, Kim Mirus, 2015

I used Icelandic wool to carefully card and handspin this gradient into the yarn.  It was then woven with carefully sourced wool from a small farm of happy sheep, and hung from a piece of driftwood that arrived as I finished the piece.  This piece serves as an extensive study that will inform my next pieces woven from my handspun yarn.

Icelandic Tog Study In this study I experimented with ways to weave and emphasize the Icelandic tog, or the long, outer locks, of the wool.  I am incorporating raw materials with processed ones in my weavings not only to create dimensional texture, but also to draw attention to the materials themselves.  

Icelandic Tog Study

In this study I experimented with ways to weave and emphasize the Icelandic tog, or the long, outer locks, of the wool.  I am incorporating raw materials with processed ones in my weavings not only to create dimensional texture, but also to draw attention to the materials themselves.  

Detail from the Icelandic Tog Study

Detail from the Icelandic Tog Study

Tog and Thel

Icelandic wool has long outer locks, or tog, and a fine undercoat called thel.  The fibers are beautiful when spun together or separately.  Right now I am working on a series of smaller weavings with the thel as the processed component, carded and handspun into yarn, and the tog as the raw material, left natural and incorporated into the weaving.  I'm so thrilled to be working with the huge spectrum of natural colors of Icelandic wool.  It is truly a privilege since so much of this gorgeous spectrum has been bred out of sheep for white production wool 

These fibers are almost ready to be woven.  The thel has been spun and the tog is ready to be incorporated as locks.  It's amazing that this lamb naturally grew such a plethora of colors in the undercoat and such a consistently gradated outer coat.  Before the fibers were separated the whole fleece appeared to be a mixed grey, and now their natural qualities really stand out.

These fibers are almost ready to be woven.  The thel has been spun and the tog is ready to be incorporated as locks.  It's amazing that this lamb naturally grew such a plethora of colors in the undercoat and such a consistently gradated outer coat.  Before the fibers were separated the whole fleece appeared to be a mixed grey, and now their natural qualities really stand out.