Fiber Fun Fest

by Joanna

This weekend our local 4-H program hosted its annual Fiber Fun Fest at the county fairgrounds. This small fiber arts fair holds a place very near and dear to my heart. It is where our daughter first had the chance to sit at a loom and work a shuttle. Twice during the event they host a sheep-shearing, and you can see that there are a lot of children watching the sheep get a hair cut!

Quilting, embroidery, knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, felting, sewing, lacemaking... it is all lovingly represented at this fair.

I was the guest of the kind folks from Brown Sheep Company, who always host a booth at the event, and I had a great time visiting with friends, old and new.

Inara spent more time with Phoebe, May, and Freddie than anyone else- she dressed and undressed each doll carefully, and checked to see how well Phoebe's clothes fit May, how well Freddie's clothes fit Phoebe, and so on and so forth. So much fun.

Declan was a wealth of knowledge about platypodes- it was neat to see how excited he was about the details in Eric's illustrations!

Ruby showed up looking very cozy in her red Phoebe's Sweater! It gives me such a happy feeling to see my patterns "in the wild" like this, especially when they are so well done.

Ruby's mother lined her sweater with this beautiful flannel. This is the first lined version of the sweater I have seen, and it was stunning!

Here is another girl named Ruby, who is a good friend of ours. She is also wearing her Phoebe's Sweater, also made by her mother, who happens to be one my test knitters, too. Here you see the beginning of a crocheted hat, the happy results of a crochet class she took at the fair.

It was a long and busy day for all of us, and little Elsa had the perfect place to take a nap! I had so much fun watching her doze off in the midst of all of the energy and excitement. 

Thank you to all of the volunteers, vendors, teachers, children, and demonstrators for creating such a wonderful event!


Back to the drawing board. Literally.

by Joanna
I am sure you all know what it is like to be disappointed, to lose something, to realize that your creative efforts have been lost, damaged, or just plain aren't going to work. As you may know, we have been wrapping up our third children's book this winter. My husband Eric illustrates my stories, and, if you have seen them, you understand me when I say he puts an incredible amount of detail into every drawing. 

A few weeks ago, he was about 80% done with the artwork, and was just getting ready to lay a final watercolor wash onto the illustrations when this happened:

If you look at the paper, you can see a series of wrinkles running across the entire page. This is the same paper Eric used for our first two books, so this was a complete shock to us. Whether due to a change in his illustration style, or the quality of the paper, or just the fact that he has been drawing, erasing, and redrawing over the same pages for the last year while he has refined the artwork, the drawings are not salvageable. For a brief moment we talked about shelving the entire book project. But that didn't last long. 

He immediately went to work researching the best kind of paper to match his style and approach to illustration. It needed to be very strong and stable to handle the many layers of drawing and erasing and redrawing that he puts into every page. He started with this durable watercolor board:

After one illustration, though, it was obvious that the rugged texture of the paper was going dull some of the fine and detailed pencilwork that Eric includes in his illustrations. After another week of trial and error he was able to, once again, hand transfer each illustration to a durable yet smooth watercolor paper.

It looks like this paper has the perfect texture and strength for the artwork. So, it is back to the drawing board. Literally. After working on this book for a year, last week he sat down at his table to a stack of completely blank pages. And started again. 

To say I am proud of him would be a great understatement. 
I will update you soon.
Thank you for your kind thoughts.


In which Angela brings chocolate from Brooklyn and we laugh all night at Allegra's...

by Joanna
Last weekend I was able to catch up with some friends at Fancy Tiger Crafts down in Denver. Allegra and Angela are such fun and creative people! Angela was in Denver filming a class for Craftsy, which should be available very soon, and Allegra came straight from performing a concert with Devotchka. 

Ysolda was presenting trunk shows from her two newest books and also doing a book signing. It was a great night to be at the shop.

This is, in my opinion, the best photo booth pic of the evening! Emily looks so happy.

We had so much fun chatting and visiting together. Angela brought some treats from her Brooklyn neighborhood. This is truly the best chocolate I have ever had.

I never seem to be able to leave Fancy Tiger empty handed- there are always a few things that just have to come home with me. The fabric has a special purpose which I will be able to reveal to you this spring... a little clue is that it has something to do with Allegra...

Rocky Mountain Nordic Ski Escapade (or, Coffee and Snow)

by Joanna
Eric and I escaped to the nearby Rocky Mountains for two days of cross-country skiing.

The trails were perfect.

The snow was fresh.

The coffee tastes better at 9,000 feet.

We found a grove of aspens, where hearts and initials remain...

...from weekenders before.


Learning to Spin on the Ashford Traveller

by Joanna
I always said I would never be a spinner. I hardly have time to knit the yarn I already have, why would I start making it myself? But sparked by our daughter's earnest desire to learn to spin, and inspired by a lovely morning at a harvest festival spinning booth with Amy Clarke Moore, we found ourselves "on the market" for a spinning wheel.

A very kind and generous woman, hearing of our new interest from a mutual friend, emailed me one afternoon. As she was in the process of remaking her studio into a writing space to work on her new book, and didn't have room for her wheel anymore, she offered it to us. 
I was floored. It was providential. We said yes, and it came home with me that very night.

 Our preschooler, who is fascinated by anything that turns, is my biggest cheerleader. "Here it comes!" he calls out as I start a new bobbin. "You're doing it!" he shouts as I get into a nice rhythm.

"Can I do it?" he asks. So he helps me gently guide the roving along. Then, quite proudly, "You made it, mom! You made it!"

Creating something by hand, something beautiful that you love, is an amazing experience. That is right, son. I made it. I guess I might be becoming a spinner after all.