TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Baa, baa, Etsy... Have you any wool?"

Sheep with Backup Singers, 10x10 matted fine art print
"Yes, Sir! Yes, Sir! Three bags full!" Actually, Etsy wool suppliers have bags and bags of wonderful eye-candy, wool spun in all color palettes, textures, and blends catering to the knitter, felter, weaver, and wild fiber artist. For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, August reminds us that the warmth of Summer is coming to an end. We had sweltering summer days last week here in Kentucky with temperatures over 100 degrees. Today has been on the chilly side, reminding me of my stash of wool accessories made by my friend, Diane the Yin Yang Knitter. Soon it will be time to get out her fingerless gloves, hats, and neck warmers.

I am not a knitter, weaver, or spinner. But, I do come from farm stock and long for connections that bring me close to the earth. Last year at around Christmas time, I read a post on Etsy's forum that moved me almost to tears. I don't remember the member's name, but there was a wool supplier thanking everyone for their support. Etsy purchases of their wool had helped them save their farm. How often do we really think about the impact our purchases really have on the lives of the suppliers? Yes, the wool on Etsy is going to be more expensive than the finds you can get on eBay, but if objects did have spirits, you can bet that Etsy wool is happy wool.

There are scores of suppliers on Etsy, but I just picked a few examples to wet your whistle. I happen to migrate towards texture and color. You cannot ask for more texture than Yarnzombie's, also known as Gaslight Dyeworks, offerings:

ABALONE Handspun Supercoiled Yarn - 7.15 ounces
'Abalone' was spun from hand dyed combed roving
that includes wool, mohair, soy silk, and nylon sparkle.

Yarn Zombie's blog will dazzle you with more textured visuals, excellent narratives and stories told by this Ohio artist.

I found that many of these yarn people have a great sense of humor. Muriel of Willow Acre Fibers warns you not to eat her chocolate-covered cherry roving, unless you are a sheep!

CHOCOLATE-COVERED CHERRIES Handpainted Fine Merino Roving, 4.125 This roving, or combed top, will felt nicely and it's excellent for spinning. It's very fine 21 micron merino and spins like a dream.

She states in her profile: "I usually set up shop out under my huge willow tree, with some music, tables, roving, dyes, and my 1950's retro Nesco! Spinning under the willow is a little piece of surreal heaven as well. I hope all those lovely days somehow infuse into the fiber that wings its way to you!" Talk about happy yarn! Sounds like a dream to me...

Lisa Weisman of Sexy Sheep moved to North Carolina from New York. She's another one who chuckles as she names her wool. She likes to shred ugly sweaters and make gorgeous, chunky wool like this steel grey wad of glory:

Eno River: recycled sweater, marino, yak down, wensleydale sheep locks 104 yards/4.6 ounces, worsted to bulky weight

Lisa writes about her shredding compulsions, of life in North Carolina and shows some of her knitting in her Re-yarn blog. She has a wonderful writing style. Of a hat and booties she made for a friend's baby, she stated, "Knitting this made my ovaries hurt."

A couple of youngsters from Heidelberg, Germany call themselves Weird and Twisted. They spin, knit and crochet because they can't keep their hands still. Has any research ever been done on how crafting keeps people out of jail? Or, maybe from doing hard drugs? They share a blog in which they seem to be perfectly normal. And, look a sample of their weird and twisted beauty!

This lustrous Art Yarn has been hand spun from hand-dyed, poisonous green and yellow merino/silk blend and then plied with a metallic thread. There are lots of tiny green glass beads and many, many coils.

We are so fortunate to live in time when fiber materials have become so innovative and interesting. The above spinners have used alpaca, sheep's wool, silk and other materials to create their gorgeous textures. Now, bamboo has become a resource increasingly available in many forms to fiber artists. As a quilter, I am excited about the bamboo batting that is hitting the market. Traditions Fiber Arts of Linden, Texas has a nice selection of bamboo yarn and roving. They also carry spinning wheels and other accessories. Judy left her newspaper editor job to pursue a passion for all things fiber.

Y0139 hand dyed Hand spun Bamboo Yarn Silver Fern and Lemon Drops

Farmhouse Weavers has a set up similar to the post I mentioned where Etsy sales saved the farm. They have their own sheep and sell raw fleece, spun yarns and finished woven products.

Working the land and animal husbandry are labor intensive occupations with little social recognition. We've lost many of the mentors that would have been around a hundred years ago who knew the tricks of the trade. I think it is interesting how many of these sellers started out with a hobby like knitting or crocheting, got interested in the source, and worked backwards until they finally landed on a plot of land with feet firmly planted where many had walked so long ago. It takes guts and it also takes a supportive community of buyers to keep them in business.

We started with a sheep and ended with another, but I must say a bit more about the opening photo. Nature Mandela's photos caught my eye when I first started selling on Etsy. I have coveted those singing sheep for a long time now and someday hope to own a copy for myself. Allison Trentelman also makes stunning mandalas out of photoshopped nature images. All of these artists contribute towards careful preservation of our land, our heritage, our creativity and our relationship towards the animals and people around us. Visit their shops, support them with your purchases, and spread the word. (While you're at it, come visit my shop, too... heh, heh)

"Mandalas are a beautiful way to bring harmony to a room and the beauty of nature indoors. All of my mandala prints are created from digital photographs of the Maine natural landscape, and manipulated in Photoshop into the mandala shape. I have created over one thousand mandalas over the last several years. Each mandala is constructed with perfect geometry and presented with high quality archival materials." -Allison Trentelman



  1. It almost makes me want to take up knitting! I loe the mandela of the trees - beautiful

  2. Thank you so much for featuring our sweet little sheep on your site. I love what you are doing here and hope to have time to check back and become more involved...life here is pretty busy so I will check in when I can.

  3. Thanks for the mention! I was surprised and pleased to be included in a grouping of such fabulous artists. :) I look forward to poking around in your blog and Etsy shop - there seems to be all sorts of fibery goodness to discover!

  4. Love your blog and love of course sheep and spinning and knitting and all fiber goodies too!! will be back to drool over some more things and thanks for showing off some fun shops (one being my friend Yarnzombie!! she's great and I love getting to hang out with her when i can!) would love to add your blog to mine if that's ok! if not let me know!! Hugs Linda


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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