Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Shearing Festival

Today was the Spring Shearing festival at Withers Ranch in Tucson. Danny Smith drives in from Missouri to shear the animals who live at the working fiber ranch. It's Spring and there were lots of babies on the 8-acre property. Tours of the grounds were the highlight of the day as many families were on hand to learn more about the kinds of fibers produced by the many different breeds. Kathy provides free tours throughout the year to community organizations, school groups, fiber guilds, and others who are interested in seeing how fiber is produced. She also offers classes in weaving, spinning, knitting, crocheting and felting. Today, I provided demonstrations on needle-felted landscapes and a woman from Canada who is a student of Kathy's provided demonstrations on nuno felting throughout the day.

I demonstrated dimensional landscapes and was working on this desert scene. It's from a photograph my kids (adults) took on a recent climbing trip. I focused on adding greens and browns to the central tree. I wrapped the natural wool fibers around a square-shaped toothpick (as opposed to a rounded one), slightly moistening them as I twirled them into shapes. I then needle-felted them into place, bu this shaping gives them added dimension and when I go to do the wet felting that I have planned, this will be a textural piece, suitable for framing. I will place it into a shadow box so that the glass isn't against any of the fibers. It will be applied to the surface of a matboard, meaning that the mat would be behind the felted surface, not on top of it. It's not yet ready for framing, but I'll be sure to post it once it is completely finished.

For more information on Withers Ranch, the Sheep Shearing Festival, or the 2010 Tucson Wool Festival scheduled fro November 6, go to

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Queen Valley, AZ Scrap Rats Spring Luncheon

Today I have been invited to the Queen Valley Scrap Rats Spring Luncheon to speak with the group about copyright, a topic very near and dear to my heart. As a bonus, I'll get to see firsthand some of the completed convergence quilts from the February class. I'll include a few photos here as teasers, and the rest can be seen on my web gallery at Queen Valley is a lovely desert location off Highway 60 between Phoenix and Globe, AZ. I got a tip from Carol Crosswhite that the poppies are blooming near Superior (which is probably another 15 minute up the rod toward Superior, and we all know how I love to photograph the desert in the springtime. I need to make that trip...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Student Work from Prickly Piecers Kaleidoscope Class

I'm always so proud of the accomplishments of my students once they have completed a class project. This kaleidoscope quilt was created by Cathy Jo Means during the February 27th class. She brought it in finished to the monthly meeting on March 18th. She has posted her fabulous quilt on www.thequiltshow with Ricky Tims, who designed the original Kool Kaleidoscope. I'm sure Ricky would be proud of Cathy's effforts. I particularly like the curved border on her piece.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Here is photo of "Pinkers" once the piecing has been competed. It was an exercise in making the Kool Kaleidoscope on a smaller scale and without the strata. It's 32"x32" before quilting (based on a 12" freezer paper template). See Feb. 28'ths entry for more info on this piece. It will be used as a class sample once it is quilted and has its binding applied.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Shearing Festival

The Tucson Spring Shearing Festival is two weeks from today and I'm getting excited. It is being held at Withers Ranch, 4010 WestPalo Seco , in Tucson, AZ from 9-3 on Saturday, March 27th. I was a vendor at last Fall's Tucson Wool Festival and I demoed making felted spirals, felted embellishments, and silk paper for Kathy. This year my efforts will focus on felted landscapes, which is a mutual interest that Kathy and I share. During the day, Kathy gives a free informative tour of her working fiber ranch where she raises alpacas, angora goats and rabbits, llamas and several kinds of sheep. Kathy dyes and spins her natural fibers and sells both supplies and finished products through her studio. A variety of merchants (including Gypsy Studios) will be available. Contact Kathy at or call her at 502-572-3758 for additional information. It is a fun family day for all ages and I highly recommend it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Everybody Comes From Somewhere...

And I hail from Decatur, Illinois where I was born and raised. Okay, you say, but why are you sharing this with us today, Rita? After all, everybody comes from somewhere. Recently there's been a thread about knitters who decorated trees with their works to "spruce", pardon the pun, them up, only to incur the wrath of city leaders who insisted that they needed a permit for such a thing. Well, I'm proud to say that in Decatur, you don't need a permit to display your art for the beautification of your city and the enjoyment of your fellow citizens. Here is a link to the article in the Herald & Review newspaper.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Even Newer Toy!!

The Office Depot ad in the Sunday paper had yet another toy that I was simply amazed with. A pocket video camera. Who knew? This video camera is small enough to fit comfortably in a shirt pocket (or in my hand sewing kit) and was so reasonably-priced. It's a Kodak z16 pocket video camera and it is on sale for $69 (down from $149 this week only!!). A must for every fiber artist and teacher. It looks like a cell phone (but I haven't figured out how to talk and shoot video at the same time). The ads say it's great for You Tube and while l I've yet to enter into that arena, it's certainly in the plan. Keep checking back with me, I'm sure you'll see video here in the very near future.

Monday, March 1, 2010

My Newest Toy

Here's my newest toy, an HP Officejet 7000 Wide Format printer. It arrived today and is ready to be broken in for my Crop & Colorize class. It prints 13"x19" and does a great job on imagery on fabrics. If you remember seeing the piece called "Tucson" that I put on my gallery at, that piece used an Electric Quilt fabric sheet of that size. EQ printable sheets differ from Printed Treasures sheets in that they are backed with a more plastic-feeling sheet that readily peels away with no loss in quality.