The Highlights Reel

While I was at The Knit and Crochet Show, more than one person commented to me that they couldn’t take classes the entire time because it was too much for them to absorb.  Wasn’t I totally overwhelmed?  Nope, not at all.  The entire event was an adrenaline rush and I enjoyed every moment.  A week after I got back, after reliving the entire event through writing the blog posts about it, I crashed.  This wasn’t all because of the show; August is break month for the Harry Potter Knitting / Crochet House Cup.  I push myself hard during the term, achieving feats of crafting that I otherwise wouldn’t attempt, and I appreciate break month!  Don’t get me wrong — I still crafted and had fun adventures in August and September to date.  Here’s the highlights.

August

S’s 5th Birthday Party

My cousin’s daughter turned 5 and had a birthday party at the zoo.  It was the largest kid’s birthday party I’ve ever attended — 28 kids and 30+ adults.  I made fondant cupcake toppers (I don’t think I’ve mentioned here that I’ve got mad cake skills?  I don’t make cakes as often as in the past).  Since I live 2+ hours from my cousin, she bought cupcakes locally and I put the toppers on when I arrived at the party.

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And I was the first person in line to get my face painted.  I got to the party early so I could get those cupcake toppers on the cupcakes and the few children already there showed no interest in getting their face painted.  I figured I’d beat the rush!

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I knit the birthday girl a Barbie dress.

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Sorting Yarn

A few months ago, my friend Nancy and I went to the home of a member of the weaver’s guild who had passed away (see my blog post).  She wanted her yarn to benefit the guild.  Nancy and I sorted it to pick out anything that was suitable for demos.  We always have a little takeaway for kids and are constantly on the look out for yarn for those.  We packed up any project kits or yarns suitable for weaving and brought those to the guild’s annual auction.  The money raised from the sale of those yarns is designated for demos and will be used to buy yarn for takeaways once we use up our current stash.

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Orlando Shakes Open House

From the Weavers Guild meeting, I went straight to the Orlando Shakespeare theater for their annual open house.  I’ve never made it to this event before and had a great time.  I went to all three panel discussions — one on lighting and sound production, one on building props, and one with the directors and educators about visioning and producing individual plays and the future of the troop.  They also had a small display of props and costumes from previous productions.  Here’s a small selection of the spectacular costumes, which are created in house, in conjunction with the theater department of a local university, and with the help of many volunteers.

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Akerworks

My order from Akerworks arrived!  I got 6 bobbins for my wheel (one in each style) and 3 drop spindles (one in each size).  I didn’t take pictures before they got pressed into service, but I’m sure you’ll see pictures in future blog posts.  I did take a picture of the lovely hand-written note Adan included in the box.

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Ravenclaw Staff

I accepted a position as blog mistress for The Ravenclaw Aerie, the blog for the Ravenclaw Tower in the Harry Potter Knitting / Crochet House Cup.  This is a big part of the reason for the neglect of my own blog; planning and executing for that blog has taken the time I had for blogging.  Now that we’re on a schedule over there, I expect to be back to my own blog regularly!  Most of what’s on The Ravenclaw Aerie is probably only of interest to those in Ravenclaw Tower or the Cup, but one of the first posts is about something else I did in August.  Ravenclaw Porcupine Snuggles works at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  She and two of her colleagues drove from Baltimore to New Smyrna Beach, FL to release Cougar, a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle.  I met them in New Smyrna Beach so I could witness the release, and Porcupine Snuggles and I wrote a blog post about it for the Aerie.

Disney with Beth

My friend Beth came on vacation for a week and we spent lots of time at Disney!  We ate at the Be Our Guest restaurant in the new part of Fantasy Land in the Magic Kingdom.  We did not expect to be able to get a reservation because this restaurant, the interior of which is a replica of the castle in Beauty and the Beast, is sold out 6 months in advance.  We checked anyway; someone must have cancelled because we got a 1:15 pm reservation!  The restaurant is stunning inside and out.

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On the day we went to EPCOT, it poured.  My mother, Beth, and I walked from The Land to Journey through the Imagination without seeing any one else walking around (everyone else was smarter than us — when we got to Journey through the Imagination, the ride was down because the building was struck by lightning!).  It was eerie, and made us think about what the park is like after it closes.  We waited for Journey through the Imagination to be back up, and after we got off the ride, the rain had settled down to a normal rain shower rather than a deluge.  We headed towards the World Showcase, wading through a calf-deep puddle on our way there.

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All the rain made for a beautiful sunset!

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Sick

A couple days after Disney, my husband got sick with a very bad cold.  I caught it from him and it turned into a sinus infection.  Yuck!  For the last week of August and the first week of September, we took turns feeling misearable.  Not much got accomplished around here.  I was coughing so much that fiber crafting wasn’t even viable 🙁

September

L’s Birthday

Fortunately, I felt better in time to fly to New York City for a long weekend celebrating my sister’s 40th birthday.  Before she arrived on Friday evening, her friends and I went to the Global Fashion Capitals exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum.  Here’s a couple of interesting pieces from that exhibit.

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We were trying to decide what to do next when I saw someone walk by with a Mood bag.  For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Mood is a fabric store and is the place contestants on Project Runway shop for the fabric used to make their creations.  We decided to go to Mood and since it was a lovely day we walked the 10 blocks to the shop.  I was totally overwhelmed by Mood.  On the ground floor, there’s a two-story section of upholstery and other home decoration fabrics.  To get to the main shop, you take this old elevator, operated by an elevator attendant, to the third floor.  Once there, you have another 3 stories of every fabric imaginable.  I have no idea how the contestants manage to shop for fabric in only 30 minutes!

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Yes, I did pet Swatch!
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One section of the leather department.

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One day, we went to the Tenement Museum (no pix allowed there).  Our grandfather grew up in the Depression-era tenements of the Bronx, so this was a poignant visit for us.  Afterwards, we wandered around SoHo and I bought my first ever pair of Fluevogs.

Later that evening, my sister and her friends went to a play.  They bought tickets before I committed to the trip, and I wasn’t able to get a ticket to the show.  Instead, I took a train out to Long Island to visit law school classmates and meet their 4-month-old baby.  It was good to see them!

The next day, my sister, her friends, and I went to the Cloisters Museum, and visited their famous room of unicorn tapestries.

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We ate fabulous food every day, including the best doughnuts I’ve ever eaten, from The Doughnut Plant.  The interior of the shop was adorable, with doughnut pillows on the wall, a doughnut tile backsplash, and donut chairs!

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The last night, my sister and I stayed in her friend’s apartment in Brooklyn.  The friend was out of town, but gave us a key.  The apartment came with bonus kitty, Billie.

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Billie was super sweet and reminded me of my Pepper, whom I still miss very much!

Although I lived in the Northeast for nearly 30 years, I had never spent more than an afternoon in New York City before this trip.  I had a wonderful time and hope I get to visit again!

Spamalot

For the fifth year in a row, Chris and I have season tickets for the Orlando Shakespeare theater.  The first show of the season was Spamalot!  It was absolutely spectacular.  If you have the opportunity, you should totally see this show.

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Orlando Maker Faire

Last weekend was the Orlando Maker Faire.  The Drunken Monkey Spinners and Weavers of Orlando shared a booth for the event.  Nancy and I spent the entire weekend in the booth; other members of the two groups spent one day or the other.

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This was the fourth year of the Orlando Maker Faire.  Last year, they expanded from the Science Center and included some exhibits in the park.  This year, they expanded further, with arts and crafts exhibits in the Orlando Museum of Art, which is located on the opposite side of the park from the Science Center.  The expected attendance at this event was 15,000; I didn’t hear an actual number after the event, but it is by far the highest attendance at any event where I’ve demoed.

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The Science Center was wall-to-wall people; the Art Museum, where we were located, was steady but manageable.  This was a fantastic event to demo.  The people coming to this events are makers themselves.  They like to know how things work and ask lots of questions!  I spun the 50/50 Camel Down / Silk that I bought from Red Fish Dyeworks at The Knit and Crochet Show.  I only got 1 ounce spun, out of 4, in the 17 hours I spent spinning!  This is partially because I talked to lots of people, but also because it is spinning very fine.

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Hey — there’s one of the Akerworks bobbins I got in August!

Florida Fiber In

This weekend is the Florida Fiber In.  I went last night, but won’t make it there the rest of the weekend.  I picked up some Black-Faced Valois locks and some Bombyx Silk fiber, and spent a couple hours spinning and chatting!

Fiber Crafting

The new HPKCHC term started on September 1 and I’ve been crafting like a mad woman.  I haven’t taken pix of anything yet, but I’m working on that today and tomorrow.  I’ll have a Year of Projects update post sometime tomorrow.

Ongoing

I have also been working on improving skills to benefit my blog.  I bought my first DSLR camera (a Canon 70D (affiliate link)) and a Pro-Am video camera (Canon XA-10 (affiliate link)).  I added Adobe Stock to my Adobe Cloud subscription.  I used my Lynda.com subscription to learn how to use Adobe Bridge, then used Bridge to move all my photos out of Apple’s Photos app and into their own folders on my external hard drive.  I’m still working on adding metadata and tags to the photos.  I had 19,000 photos and videos in Photos and have a very hard time actually finding anything when I’m looking for it!  It’s a lot of work to organize, but I believe it will be worth it in the end.  I’m just starting the Lynda.com courses on Adobe After Effects and Lightroom, to further improve my photography and videography skills.

So that’s the highlight reel of the last six weeks.  What’s your highlights?

 

Central Florida Fair 2015

When we first moved to Florida in May 2002, I joined the Confectionary Artists Guild of Orlando (CAGO).  I started learning cake decorating as a scout badge when I was 12 and by the time I moved to Florida, I had professional-level skills.  CAGO does cake demos at the Central Florida Fair every year.  They usually have an entire weekend afternoon of demos from the stage in the Creative Arts building.  CAGO members do back-to-back 1/2 hour demos on a variety of cake-related skills.  I did a demo every year for three or four years.  When the Fair was looking for people to do cooking demos, they asked CAGO if any of our members wanted to do that.  I volunteered, and did vegetarian cooking demos for a couple years in addition to the cake demos.  Then I started law school in fall 2007 and life got pretty crazy.  I hadn’t been to the Fair since.  Until yesterday, when I spent the morning at the fair, doing spinning demos in the Weavers Guild of Orlando booth.

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Bev demonstrating on the floor loom and me spinning.

The Central Florida Fair is only open in the evening on most weekdays.  On the first Friday morning of the fair, they host a Kids’ Day for school groups, homeschool groups, and families.  Each group gets a guide from the fair in addition to the chaperones from the school.  The guide brings the group through the open sections of the fairgrounds (the midway isn’t open, but creative arts and the barns were; not sure about other buildings).  In the creative arts building, most of the guild and club booths had a person in them to do a demo.  Some had make and takes or a hands on activity.  In our booth, we gave a brief talk about how clothes are made.  Bev talked about the difference between knitted and woven fabrics, pointing out examples from the clothes kids were wearing.  Then I pointed out the $5 Mystery Fleece, fluffed out on the table behind me and the bag of seeded Pima cotton (in a bag just behind my right shoulder in the picture above).  I explained that these were in raw form, that they were then cleaned and formed into a continuous tube of fiber, and that in order to make yarn those tubes of fiber have to be thinner and that’s what a spinner does.

After we did our short explanation, kids got a chance to weave on the floor loom and to make Kumihimo braids with guidance from my friend V. (That’s V.’s foot in the right-hand edge of the picture above; she asked me not to post her picture).  V. is not a fiber-crafter (yet!) but she’s staying with me and she tagged along to the fair to help wrangle kids.  At the beginning of the day, Bev showed V. how to do Kumihimo braids.  She picked it up quickly and did a great job teaching kids how to do it too.

The bucket is half full of bobbins.  Kids could pick their favorite color and use it to weave.
The bucket is half full of bobbins. Kids could pick their favorite color and use it to weave.

One of the bobbins in the bucket (on the shuttle in the picture above) was loaded with VCR tape.  Bev had several small woven pieces and a finished bag that included VCR-tape weft.  I was surprised by how pretty it was.  The tape tends to take on the colors of the warp or other surrounding fibers, adds a pretty sheen to the fabric, and the draft pattern stands out beautifully against it.  Bev also brought some samples woven with plastic grocery bags or Cheesecake Factory to-go bags.  All the pieces were beautiful, and I wouldn’t have guessed the material.  I obviously need to expand my thoughts on appropriate materials for weaving!  There’s a lot more than just yarn.

Close up of the VCR-tape weft.
Close up of the VCR-tape weft.

Teaching Spinning

I started a new fiber at the fair — Cormo for my first of the Breed-Specific Spinning Project.  For the first few groups of kids, I just spun and answered questions.  No one touched my wheel.  One of the kids in the fourth group asked if she could try it out, so I sat her down at the wheel.  I’ve only been spinning for 10 months now, and have only spun about 3 pounds of fiber.  I’m nowhere near an expert and haven’t taught anyone else to spin.  I discovered that I don’t have a good vocabulary for explaining what is happening when you spin or for verbally communicating the process to a student.  After that first kid, I didn’t let anyone else sit and try all the steps at once.  I mostly let kids (even as young as 4) hang onto the roving and pull on it a bit, while I treadled and kept my left hand pinched firmly around the point of the twist.  The resulting fiber was over twisted, thick and thin, and broke a couple of times.  But so  what?  Kids got to touch fiber and were pretty excited about it.  I learned that I have a lot to learn before I can effectively teach spinning and that the technical details of spinning are not firm enough in my own mind.  If they were, I’d be able to explain them!

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More Fair for Me?

The Central Florida Fair runs February 26 – March 8 this year.  During the week, they are open evenings 4 pm or 5 pm until 10 pm.  On Saturdays and Sundays, they are open 10 am to 10 pm.  The Weavers of Orlando are staffing our booth on weekends, but may not be there on weekdays.  I can’t be there again this weekend, but might be there next weekend.  If you are at the Fair, stop by and say hi to the weavers!  Anyone can try out the floor loom; it’s not just for kids!

 

 

 

Orlando Distaff Day 2015

Saturday, January 10, was the Eleventh Annual Orlando Distaff Day.  I’ve known about the event for the last 5 or 6 years, but have always had a conflict and been unable to attend.  This year, not only did I attend, I also served on the planning committee.  I had an absolutely wonderful time at this event!

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