Tell us a little bit about yourself... I'm Amanda Hartrich, and my husband, four kids and I live in the country in Western New York, near Buffalo. I've had a long history with yarn and fiber, beginning with teaching myself to crochet when I was 8. Fast-forward 18 years, and I walked into the LYS (The Embraceable Ewe), and asked the owner, Erin, if she needed any help. No, I didn't know anything about good yarn. No, I didn't know how to knit. No, I didn't know how to work a register. To this day, I have no idea why she hired me, but what a blessing that she did!
I learned to knit really quickly, ran the store's help hours, taught knitting and crochet classes and managed the website. I loved every minute of it, especially when Erin let me borrow her spinning wheel for a while, and I taught myself to spin. After a few years, though, my husband and I felt called to a change in our lives. We feel we've been given direction to start a farm and open it up to inner-city children for them to learn about animals, food and alternative lifestyles.
We got chickens, I started volunteering in the city, and we've been working for four years now to accomplish the dream. Though, as followers of Christ, we feel it is all in His time and refuse to take out any loans to make things happen any faster.
The past two years have seen the most change: I opened my Etsy store, Inspiration Fibers, and we moved further into the country. We were given the opportunity to purchase my in-law's house (they built a new one right next door!) which is on more acreage than we could have hoped for, and better houses our brood of kids. This summer begins our adventures with sheep! I plan to start a small flock of three Shetlands and expand from there. The kids in the city are more excited than ours are (my kids know the chores associated with animals!!)
What do you love about wool and the creative process of dying and spinning wool...
As an artist, I'm endlessly fascinated with wool. Though it's a single medium, you can find infinite variations: from breed to breed and from animal to animal. It's full of life and energy as it springs and crimps, some is shiny, some dull, some rough, some soft, some long, some short: the extremes are limitless! I've worked with it so much that very rarely do I think it's rough, I'm forever asking my husband if something is soft, because it's all soft to me (well, let's not get carried away, Navajo Churo is not soft).
My absolute favorite thing to do with wool is to wash a fleece. There is something magical about taking smelly, yellow wool, pushing it into hot soapy water, and pulling out icy-white fluff. I also really get to know a fleece and sheep by working with it right from the beginning. As it comes out of the bath, it usually goes directly into a dye pot. At any one time, I'll have wool washing, dyeing and drying all over my studio kitchen. I even keep some just sitting around to pet it as I walk by!
When I prepare batts for spinners and felters, I get most of my inspiration from the colors I've already dyed. Sometimes batts are a single breed, so that the artist can really play up what that breed offers. Most of the time, though, I'll mix breeds together along with some sparkly nylon or bamboo. Each element adds a different characteristic to the finished project. It really helps, though, to know who will be purchasing. I have a regular customer who is a felter, and when I make batts for her, I'm constantly thinking of how the colors will lay out for her scarves. If they're just batts for the shop, I prep them for spinners, and base them on how I prefer to spin.
What is your favorite wool to work with...
My favorite breed right now is Bluefaced Leicester. I found a wonderful BFL farm that is producing wool almost as fine as Merino, but with a longer staple length which adds shine and easier spinning. I've purchased more fleeces from them than anywhere else, and I plan to have BFLs after we learn what we're doing on the little Shetlands! The finished yarn, spun with BFL is springy, round and warm. I'm planning on spinning enough of it for myself to make a full sweater. We'll see if that actually happens though!
To enter this giveaway:
1. Visit Amanda's shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/inspirationfibers?ga_search_query=inspiration+fibers&ga_search_type=seller_usernames and coment on this blog what you love in her shop.
OR 2. You can blog about this giveaway and post the link in your comment.
To get to know more about Amanda and her wonderful fibers, visit Amanda's blog here: http://www.inspirationfibers.com/ and also become a fan on her facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Inspiration-Fibers/112818845449556#!/pages/Inspiration-Fibers/112818845449556
Wool roving or batting enough to cover a soap bar. I purchased my beautiful wool from inspiration fibers here:http://www.etsy.com/shop/inspirationfibers?ga_search_query=inspiration+fibers&ga_search_type=seller_usernames She is this weeks featured seller and you could win some wool to make your felted projects! You only need enough to cover the soap completely. I used maybe only a 16th of an ounce here (by weight) So you can make lots of these with an ounce of wool!
A large bowl filled with hot water (as hot as everyone hands can withstand of course don't burn yourself!)
First I bevel the edges of my soap so the corners are not so square.
Get some hot water in your bowl and start to wet your felted soap with the hot water. Start to rub your soap all over in gentle rubbing becuase at this point the felt is just wet and not tightening up. I squeeze the bar and then place in the water again. Then rub and rinse with cold water (this is best to do in a sink area or a place you don't mind getting all wet. If the water is cooling or too bubbly replace it with new hot water. Keep rubbing and felting, you will notice the fibers getting tighter and shrinking to the soap bar.
Stop by if you ever need that special treat for yourself or someone you love who has a hard time digesting cow's milk....ad for those of you who can digest cow's milk the goats fudge is still the best tasting fudge I have ever had and my husband who loves cows milk said that this fudge "that IS really good!"
And the winner is Kelley!!!
This weeks giveaway, features four fun reversible napkins! Creative owner and artist of Anabelfuzz has made these earth-friendly stylish napkins! I love cloth napkins myself and use mine daily. Mine are useful, but not nearly as beautiful and fun colors and prints as these!
A set of 4 double sided (fully reversible) cloth napkins measuring 8-9 inches square. Made of two coordinating, high quality, designer cotton fabrics. Each napkin has a main fabric edged with the coordinating pattern, and reverses to the opposite. These wash up beautifully and are easy to care for. Just machine wash and dry, and iron if needed.
1. Where do you get your inspiration for making all your fun and cheerful goods?
I guess my inspiration comes from two main places. The first is my daughters. I have two young girls, ages, 3 and 6, who both have really fun and individual senses of styles. I have a great time making clothing for them that fits their personalities, and I often end up listing items in my shop similar to things I have made for them. For example, my older daughter never wears matching socks, so I made her a pair of pants with a different fabric on each leg. They ended up being really popular in my etsy shop! The second source of inspiration for me is definitely the amazing variety of fabrics that are available today. I'm constantly amazed by all of the gorgeous fabric choices out there. Many times I have seen a certain fabric and thought, "That would be perfect for a wrap skirt!" (or dress, or napkins, or a bonnet, etc..)
2.What is your favorite item in your etsy shop right now and why...
I'd say my favorite item would be this, design your own bonnet listing:
The very first items I listed in my etsy shop were bonnets, and I love being able to offer a custom listing where the customer can choose their own combination of fabrics. I have had many "design your own bonnet" listings and they have been some of my best selling items. I think people like being able to choose their own fabrics, and it's fun for me because I end up making bonnets with combinations of fabrics that I wouldn't have otherwise put together.
3. What do you love about living in Maine...
I am definitely a lover of the outdoors. I think you have to be if you live in Maine, at least if you want to be happy! I grew up camping, hiking, canoeing, and climbing trees, and eventually added rock climbing, sea kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing, and backpacking to my favorite activities. I also truly love the sense of community here, especially on my little island. It's an amazing place to have a family.
Anabelfuzz is on facebook! here: www.facebook.com/pages/anabelfuzz/75558094671?ref=ts
You can click on her button link at the top of the page or here is also her etsy shop.www.etsy.com/shop/anabelfuzz
To enter Into This Fantastic Giveway:
Three different ways to enter. Entry dates Mon. 14th winner will be randomly selected and posted Sat. 19th. First all enteries must be following this blog (even if you leave a comment etc but are not following the blog your name won't be entered in)
1. Go to Anabelfuzz etsy shop www.etsy.com/shop/anabelfuzz pick your favorite item in her shop to comment about here.
2. Leave a comment that you posted this giveaway link to your blog. Send the link with your comment.
3. Leave a comment that you shared this blog give on you facebook page. Send the link with your comment.
Thank you Anabelfuzz for your lovely giveaway...and thank you readers!
Love so many expressions. So many ways to love. So many different ways we all may communicate love... at times we may feel unloved, or feel like we have no one to love...Love though in my opinion is the strongest emotion and action we can feel and become, and the depth of it is so deep I don't think we can ever fathom the power of love!
The Greatest Gift (from the NKJ version written by Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ)
The Greatest Gift (from the NKJ version written by Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ)
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of aprophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, bso that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And cthough I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body 1to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 dLove suffers long and is ekind; love fdoes not envy; love does not parade itself, is not 2puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, gdoes not seek its own, is not provoked, 3thinks no evil; 6 hdoes not rejoice in iniquity, but irejoices in the truth; 7 jbears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 kFor we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is 4perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For lnow we see in a mirror, dimly, but then mface to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
|"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."|
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
|How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.|
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
A little history about how Valentine's day came about as we know it now...
Thank you all who participated in last weeks shampoo bar giveaway! This week is going to be YOUR pick! Visit the Pura Bella Naturals etsy shop to "pick" your favortie item. One item up to $16.50 in value... Comment here on this post which item it is you would like to win if you are randomly chosen. Now here's the fine print...YOU MUST GET A FRIEND TO COME DO THE SAME AND HAVE THEM BECOME A FOLLOWER OF MY BLOG AS WELL, AND TO LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST ON WHAT THEY WOULD LIKE TO WIN. (THEY MUST LEAVE YOUR SIGN ON NAME SO I KNOW YOU SENT THEM HERE.) This will enter you in once. To have your name entered in mutiply times just have as many people as you desire become a follower and leave a comment ect. MAKE SURE THEY PUT YOUR SIGN ON NAME in their comment...You can enter in this way as many times as you would like to and so can your friends!! I will be announcing the winner on Saturday Feb. 12th and I will contact the winner or the winner may respond back to me so I can get your address...On your mark... get set... GO!