Secret Stash Game, Round 5 — Winter 2013
Publisher’s Notes: For Secret Stash 5, Wyoming Sunset, Linda Atkinson of SageRidge Mill and Critters designed the concept of the kit and provided all the materials which were the get jumping off point for the artists involved in this round. Here’s the kit:
Now let’s see what our artists did…
“My first challenge piece was called Waiting for Winter, and now we are all certainly waiting for spring, thus the name of this shawlet. I sat with these fibers for quite a while before starting out on my journey. The blue rope kept throwing me a curve. Eventually I created a fun batt using the various fibers and throwing in a bit of this and that. The spinning of that batt was used to create most of the body of the piece, while the orange stripes were bits of yarns I spun at Camp Pluckyfluff. They had been looking for a home for quite some time, and this challenge provided the perfect place. I loved the emu feathers, and enjoyed creating this. Still confused by the rope!”
“I “dreaded” this whole project! Ha ha… What I mean is that I made all the roving in this project into dreads for needle felting or tailspinning into this project! It was a lot of fun.
First, I took all the black roving and wet felted them into long dreads that I then needle felted and wet felted into the shocking jingle jangle scarf (my one add) I picked up for fun at Christmas time. What I was going to do with this scarf, I did not know, but this secret stash kit was the answer.
From there I took my scissors and cut up the twine and then hand carded it. That took some doing, but I managed. Then I tailspun all the emu feathers, suri locks and colored wool dreads randomly into the single ply twine “yarn”.
I then took this twine and laid it alongside my single ply of alpaca yarn and used a simple single chain crochet to make a long chain out of the wild tailspun twine yarn. I used a bit more of the single ply alpaca yarn to sew this onto the scarf so that it hung down with the dreads.
“As soon as I saw this package I knew it had to become a hat.
I made a bow from some of the blue rope, and I needlefelted a flower from the red merino. The other merino was wetfelted into leaves.
The yarn was spun as a lofty single with creative cocoons from the brown suri locks.
I knit the hat from the top down, adding a ribbing at the end where I alternated my spun yarn and the brown yarn from the package (held double).
Graham, Becky: The Tangled Web
“Inspired by an article called ‘The Art of War’ in the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Vogue Knitting Magazine. My completed piece is a political statement about war and our troops overseas. I wanted to convey my feelings of the tangled web that is created by our former leaders.
“The second I saw the bright blue baling twine included in the fiber kit, inspiration struck! I knew that I wanted to incorporate all the materials into a woven basket/vessel as I excitedly unpacked all the materials and prepared to start working with them.
I carded the merino solids with some of the dark brown alpaca roving and as well as with the locks and spun it loosely/slubby. I also spun the remaining dark brown alpaca, also in a slubby thick/thin style.
The addition to this project was the skeleton of the handwoven basket that was made using undyed round reed. I loosely wove the handspun yarns and the white alpaca yarn in and then added the blue baling twine near the top. Finally, I tucked the emu feathers in to add the finishing touch.
Loved every second of this project, thank you to Linda Atkinson for providing this wonderful set of fibers, they were perfection!”
Heuseveldt, Monique: Lovely Alpaca
“When the package arrived, I was surprised to see the warm and soft alpaca. And I knew this had to be something I could wear !
First, I took the alpaca locks and washed them. Then, I took the black alpaca and put it on my drumcarder together with the merino colors, and the light alpaca locks. I took the fiber off with two chopsticks to make rolags of it.
Then I spun it and plyed it with itself.
I crocheted a mobius neckwarmer with the feather yarn, then the colored yarn and then the spun single black Alpaca yarn.
Next, I took the blue nylon rope and split it into very thin stripes and then I made a crochet flower out of it and put some of the leftover thin alpaca yarn in the center. Then I took two feathers and connected it to the flower, so it became a flower pin.
Thank you Arlene and Linda Atkinson for this Lovely Alpaca stash.”
Hughes, Lucy: “Midnight Underwater“
“Lately, I’ve been carding a lot of batts and spinning yarn. I hadn’t felted in a while, and felting is one of my favorite things to do. Underwater scenes have been recent inspirations, so I thought about what might be found on the very bottom of the ocean with black, murky waters and colorful, alien-like sea creatures. I carded the four merino colors, shredded the blue rope with scissor edges, layered thin pieces of fiber over the ostrich feathers and shredded rope, and wet felted the whole thing. The brown yarn forms a hanging loop on the back, and no extra add-ons were used.”
Hutchinson, Jessica: “Prairie Princess”
“My last memory of my great grandmother was visiting her in the nursing home. She had Alzheimer’s disease and so she lived everyday as if she were a young girl again. She had come over the prairie in a covered wagon. I was mesmerized as I watched this tiny 83 year old woman braid her and her roommate’s hair into two braids as she told stories of her days on the prairie.
When I received my Secret Stash, it evoked some beautiful feelings, and I instantly knew that I would make a headpiece in honor of my dear little great grandma. I carded together the colored Merino. I then spun the alpaca and put the Merino randomly in one super thick chunk about two thirds of the way through. Then I N-plied the whole piece. I also spun two lengths of alpaca and added in the lovely Suri locks, and plied it with the handspun that was included. I first formed the flower, sewing it together with the handspun and weaving in the emu feathers. Then I used size 17 needles and knitted a wide headband piece. The flower and headband are one continuous piece – made to look like two. I then attached the other two lengths with the Suri locks and used the blue twine to make two lovely braids to cascade down the sides – just like my grandma’s braids.
I think it is a headpiece fit for a Prairie Princess, and so the name transpired. I love this piece… and I love how even though she couldn’t remember our names, my great grandmother gave me something better than recognition. She gave me roots: stories that I will treasure and that live in my mind and heart for years to come; stories of where I came from to inspire where I am going; stories I will pass on to my own little princesses as they find their meander their way across the prairie of life.”
Shelly Jelly: Wyoming Sunset Jacket
“I started this project with the intention of using a Native American theme but just could not make something I would not wear. My creativity gene is still developing! I core wrapped the single ply Alpaca with the wool and Alpaca locks. I would have loved to have made the “collar” more of an over cape but I like the way it turned out. I spun the black Alpaca, adding some I had on hand. I crocheted it into a short cape. After crocheting the collar I added the Emu feathers for flair. The tough thing was the blue twine. I lay in bed one night and it hit me: Button! So I created the flower button and loop by crocheting it and adding it to the cape. I enjoyed this project and can’t wait to wear it with the feathers at least once.”
Lambert, Debra: Navajo Ply Necklace
“When I looked at the secret stash package, I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone. I chose to navajo ply since it has it’s own Facebook page now. I left it in it’s nply state to make a perfect fiber necklace.”
Louise Lussier: “Emu Gifted Me a Blue Twine”
“I received the Secret Stash Wyoming Sunset Kit on January 31st. The excitement and the daring that I had at the time of the ordering of the kit was not the same. The challenge was in front of me. And I suddenly remembered how new to this I was…just started to spin last February.
The blue twine was asking “What will you do with me? “ Wait a bit…I answered…got to give you some showy spots. That’s for sure!” I needed to think. I knew that the blue twine and the exotic Emu feathers were the key to my piece. The black alpaca roving, the natural alpaca single and the merino splash of colors were earthy and soft.
The black roving was corespun, and wirespun at 4 places. The Emu feathers and the merino were randomly added into the yarn. The blue twine was cut in 3-4” pieces and reduced to filaments and others were curled on scissors as you would do for ribbon, thus giving it the lightness I needed for an exotic accompaniment to my gorgeous Emu feathers! Finally after the yarn was set, I’ve 3D formed the necklet and added some chained natural alpaca at strategic spaces and Voila!
I would like to thank Linda Atkinson of SageRidge Mill & Critters for her Wyoming Sunset Kit. It was a pleasure to work with your alpaca fibers and I enjoyed its softness.
Marsh, Anna: “Funkalicious Hat”
“This is my second round of the Secret Stash Game, and I am always so excited when my package comes! This time was no exception. I ripped into my box with the enthusiasm that my kids have on Christmas morning. Almost everything in the box excited me, with the exception being the baling twine. I’m sure everyone else felt this way too. I whined to my sister until I felt better, and by the end of the conversation, I knew exactly what I was going to make ~ a hat, but not just any old hat. This one was going to have a flower, and a hat band made of baling twine, and long, flowing, funky feathers.
But not everything goes according to plan….
With my master plan in mind, I started wet felting. I added purple BFL wool to my stash kit so that I would be sure to have enough fibers to felt into a dense hat. The body of the hat is layers of the purple BFL and the black alpaca. Once I had the hat basically felted, I moved on to the flower. In my kit there were 4 strips of merino top ~ red, green, yellow, and orange, and some natural colored Alpaca locks. The flower is made up of multiple fibery layers, felted together. I used the Suri locks as my base layer, then some of the green Merino for leaves, and I mixed some more of the purple BFL with the red colored Merino to form the petals. The stamens in the center are made with the yellow and orange Merino, and the very center of the flower is more of the orange and yellow merino needle felted into place. Now the truly fun part began ~ it was time to figure out exactly what kind of hat I was going to make. I originally wanted it to be dome shaped, with a floppy brim. Similar to the style of hat that Janis Joplin always wore. Now obviously, this is not a floppy brimmed Janis Joplin hat. The more I worked it, the more obvious it became to me that this hat had a completely different idea of what it wanted to be, and was not going to follow my plan at all. I worked the felt for quite a while, and finally, it just sort of took the shape of a fedora. It was one of those “AH HA” moments. I steam set the shape that I wanted, and test fitted the flower and feathers. I loved it. Now it was time to face the dreaded baling twine. I stripped the twine down to be a reasonable thickness to crochet with, and holding one strand of twine with one strand of the white alpaca yarn, I started the hat band. After about 20 stitches, I should have known that it was not going to work. But no…. I plunged ahead, determined to follow my plan and make a hat band with this twine. Now, as you can see in the pictures, the band is NOT made out of baling twine. It was an impossible mess that would not lay flat and straight not matter what I did. So it went in the trash can, and I was back to square one. I still had some of the black alpaca fiber and some of the purple BFL, so I spun one singles yarn of each, and made a three ply with the rest of the white yarn. I didn’t even wash it to set the twist, I just steam ironed it and started crocheting. This band is so much better! I tied it onto the hat, and tucked the feathers into the band. But now I had no baling twine in my project….I fixed this by sewing small strings of it through the flower, with the loose ends poking up around the stamens, and the flower was done. I stitched the flower to the hat using a little bit of the leftover yarn, and the most funkalicious hat that I have ever seen was born.
I’d like to give special thanks to my sister, Millissa, for modeling. As you can see from the twinkle in her eyes, she is in love with this hat!”
McCarthy, Joelle: “Community Connected”
“I was so excited to get the secret stash fibers that I would actually wake up at night thinking about what it would contain. By the time the fibers came, I had a pretty good idea what I was going make. Of course that changed when the package came. I could smell the sage even before I opened the package – Brown Alpaca fiber, already spun single, suri locks, puffs of color, emu feathers and blue bailing twine. Hmmmm, blue bailing twine… I knew twine is designed to decompose, so it couldn’t hold the integrity of the piece, but the color was fabulous.
I used the brown alpaca to construct the birdhouse. It is felted and shrunk so that the finished size is 5-6” in diameter and about ½ inch thick (perfect for bluebirds). Some suri and part of the single was used in the birdhouse to give it more integrity and some depth of color. A strip of brown alpaca was felted, and attached to the birdhouse, creating a ribbon swirling around the piece. The single yarn was needle felted in swirls, loops, and squiggles around the back of the birdhouse and the felt ribbon. More suri was added to the birdhouse door (which slants slightly down and has a 3-d lip so water would run off and not go into the shelter). I used the colored merino, blended with brown to create the flower. The center of the flower has blue twine ‘stamen’. Emu feathers flow off the side of the flower.
The bird is needle felted from brown alpaca and merino with a spiral wing and orange with blue twine embroidered eyes. The emu feathers create her awesome tail and she holds a bundle of wool, twine and sage to help make her home. Although the sage was not intended to become part of the finished items, it was burned for the smoke to smudge the piece.
Thank you Arlene – The Secret Stash project is always inspirational and really gets creativity flowing.
Thank you Linda – the fiber was a fun and challenging project and I am now in love with Emu feathers. The sage was a wonderful addition to the package and I found myself drawn to it when I needed inspiration.”
McConnell, Holly: Fiber Island
“When the package arrived, of all the items, it was the shiny blue baling twine that leapt out, crying “Me, Me, Me.” This was in direct contrast to the images that had formed in my mind, having seen the photograph of the contents on Spin Artiste, prior to their arrival.
Feeding thirty llamas and alpacas during the winter, we accrue a lot of baling twine and in addition to the million and one other uses to which it is put around the Sanctuary, I’ve used it quite a lot in my artwork. This time though, I wanted to do something really special with it.
Teasing open short lengths of the twine with a flick carder, I then worked them on the drum carder, whilst holding one end and kept working it until the end became feathery. Only then could I see what it wanted to become! Further manipulation with a fine flick carder, not only created the fluffiness, but also lightened the hue and brilliance. I wanted some shimmer, but not gaudy glitter. It is incredible how much the small loop of baling expanded, once it had been flicked for a few minutes. I even had some left over.
The background was formed by creating a wet half felt from the black roving, with more of the roving used to build up the substance of the peacock’s body. The brown yarn was Navaho plied and then cabled to create a lumpy bumpy texture which was needle felted into place to create the ground.
The core of the peacock’s head was fashioned from the remainder of the brown yarn, using a felting needle, with a little black roving to cover. No white fibre was provided in this kit; however, there was a tiny scrap of white yarn used to tie the hank of brown yarn and this was carefully overlaid to create beak and face. The glint in the eye came from an un-dyed sliver of baling twine; a rare and lucky inclusion indeed!
The Suri locks offered themselves to be the feet and claws, as well as adding substance to the roundels, with which I had great fun. The coloured merino rovings and suri locks were blended on our newly designed blending board to form dense, yet hollow rolags. These were then sliced and needle felted into place over the emu feathers, then, like vol-au-vents, each was filled with a thin felted pad of black roving and finished off with a gem of blue baling twine.
David made the white, wooden frame to support the picture, which I have counted as my single addition in the project. Although, one of our llamas believes himself to be quite the peacock, he refused to ‘strut his stuff’ before the camera, while we were photographing the picture. He would have made the perfect backdrop!
Tools and techniques used: drum carder, blending board, Indian Head spinning wheel, wet felting, needle felting, flick carder.”
Ortiz, Luna: “Rainforest Canopy”
“I had two thoughts when I initially opened the package. First I was struck by the contrast of the rich black alpaca roving and the jewel toned colors of the merino and the slick blue twine. The feathers looked like they would be fun but the alpaca locks didn’t appeal to me. My full second thought was: It’s mostly alpaca. Not my favorite fiber to spin.
I laid out the ingredients on my ottoman and studied them for a while. I would look at them and imagine them spun different ways. Card it all together into a batt, then spin thick and thin….maybe coil it. Maybe core wrap with that blue twine broken down to individual fibers and autowrap. And how to use the feathers so they just didn’t hang there…..hmmm…
After a couple of weeks of looking at the laid out fibers it struck me that what it needed was some curls to contrast with the smooth straightness of the alpaca and merino roving and the twine. Even the feathers had very straight lines. I found some long locks in my stash and knew that was the missing part.
I decided that I would create a neckpiece that had different sections that when wrapped around the neck and shoulders would have different tiers of texture.
So I spun a singles with the black roving adding bits of the colored roving and alpaca wraps into the singles. About one third to one half of the black roving was spun evenly and plain. It would hold the goodies to be added in later.
I chain plied the singles, starting with the plain section. I created one section with the blue wisps autowrapped around and through the chain, then added bundles of alpaca locks, then a section with the tail spun long locks among the first section of colored cocoons which got pulled into the chain to look like wrapped bobbles. The next section had the feathers trapped into the chain with their ends wrapped in more curly locks and finally a section with the cocoons bobbled and wrapped.
I then finger crocheted the whole yarn right off the bobbin of my Country Spinner 2. I was pleased to see that it hung balanced without needing to be set and that the sections stood out individually when wrapped around the neck either up high or in loose tiers. I love it!
Thank you for creating this opportunity to challenge myself and expand my skills!”
Ottino, Jackie: “Stella Cloche Hat”
“I had a good time making these fibers into yarn, I first shredded some of the baling twine and carded it into the black alpaca. I corespun the new batt, adding a section of merino coils and a section of shaggy suri locks. It was a great looking yarn, but I hadn’t considered my end piece before making the yarn….typical.
First I made it into a cowl, but I wasn’t feeling it. I was visiting friends at the time, and when my friend saw the feathers, she suggested a flapper hat. Perfect. I cut out the suri section, Navajo plied the alpaca yarn to match the thickness of the corespun and knit a hat with a band section of natural alpaca. The suri became a crocheted flower to adorn the side and the feathers fan out above the flower.”
Perfors, Esther: “Idea Catcher”
“When I first saw the kit I was thrilled — such a lovely vibe and lovely fibers. I knew when I saw the feathers what it wanted to be in my hands. With the fibers and the feathers, it took me on a journey to the native people.
I corespun the black Alpaca roving around a core from stripped blue string that was also in the package It was a real delight to work as it was such soft lovely roving from SageRidge Mill & Critters. I encorporated the feathers into the single I spun from the beautiful roving.
Then I carded the Merino and a bit of the Alpaca and the Suri locks for texture, and made a nice single then Navajo plied it.
All I added is an embroidery ring to make the idea catcher. It’s like a dream catcher but it’s not catching dreams, but ideas: ideas that pop in your head, but you always forget to write them down, and after a few hours or days, the idea is gone. No more, now they are caught in the beautiful corespun web, with gorgeous Emu feathers and Navajo plyed yarn wrapped ring to keep them in a safe place.
Sands, Jennifer: Aisling
“Aisling is a garment created and inspired by colors found in the natural world, both above and underwater. This hat has been made with the intent of being worn by a child. Her presence signifies the innocence and beauty of the habitats, plants and animals found on our planet. Being connected with fibers is a constant reminder of the beauty of the creations which surround us.
I received my kit in the mail and was unsure as to what I wanted to make. I debated felting, spinning, weaving, knitting or crocheting the beautiful fibers and materials to create something. My goal was to make something which would show the true beauty of the fibers while keeping their raw integrity. I felt as if mixing them all together to create a yarn would not suit my needs. Finally, I decided that these soft fibers wanted to become a hat to compliment the cold weather we are battling in Ohio. I am enthusiastic about sharing my creation with all of you. I hope you enjoy my Aisling.”
Thayer, Khristina: Felted Monarch Butterfly with Cocoon…and the Penny Hat!
” This kit brought me to the warmth of summer. While buried under the snow, I felt the sun on my face with these colors. I was drawn to make a headpiece immediately and had ideas echoing off other ideas. I was set on a specific design and when I thought about how speedily I was making my decision I pulled back the breaks and challenged my first intuition. With some lovely company and conversation the idea of the monarch butterfly came forth, the last green leaf of the fall.
Reconstructing the cocoon was my favorite part. You might not think so, but the process of freeform crochet without thought was so relaxing. I wanted to bring the idea to life and create a vessel that best represented the transformation of life and the organic structure uniquely designed by each butterfly. I choose to felt the cocoon to bring its shape to life and create a home with structure. I then connected it with its hanging home.
The leaf was simple and pleasant on the eyes; greens always make my heart melt. I loved this shade and was having a hard time not using it all at once! I was able to use some of the fiber in the kit to bulk up the leaf while felting around the outside to give it strength, the detail in the leaf was fun because the fiber made it easy to create the natural flow of the petals.
As for the Monarch herself, the fiber in the kit bulked up the inside of the wings and helped create dimension in the body shape and wing span. Though you cannot see it in the photo, I have another side with another wing that matches identical, and her legs are wire to the core; it was best to use for gripping on to her cocoon. The feathers were able to prove themselves as the feelers (I am in love with these feathers btw) and were able to fill the vase of my spare project.
There were two other projects submitted but not voted on because these incredible pieces included more than one added item. Feast your eyes!
Mackey, Fawn: “Lascaux”
“When the package arrived I laid it out on my cutting table as usual. Every time I happened by, I fingered something and would give it passing thoughts: ‘it would make a lovely wall hanging’, ‘maybe I should just sit and spin and see what happens’, or ‘how about making a doll?’. This went on and on and nothing was started. I set aside a weekend with the idea of diving in and seeing what could happen. I had no idea what would follow.
I contemplated the blue twine in a Zen like manner as if I was staring at my navel. Nothing happened so I jumped in like an alligator in a Koi pond. I first thought of gold leaf, then paint, then melting, knitting, crocheting, and deconstruction. I tried everything and settled on the latter picking it apart with a pin until it was a pile of fine blue fibers. I then smashed it flat with an iron.
So now, I had a pile of flat blue fiber. I decided to wet felt everything. Much to my dogs distress, I laid out bubble wrap (he stepped on it a scared himself) and window screen and went to town. It took me some time to layout the scarf with all the items in the kit. It also took some elbow grease. The resulting felt was thin translucent and like agate.
I wanted to add my one item so I picked a piece of art cloth from my studio. It had a mixture of handwoven fiber scraps and other silk pieces. I also mono print many of my fabrics. It was perfect to give the piece another dimension. I stitched everything down to anchor the feathers and couched on the alpaca singles to add dimension. The scarf is soft and light because of the silk. The result was an organic material that looks like a cave painting. The closer I looked the more I saw intriguing shapes and colors reminding me of something ancient; hence, the name “Lascaux”
Peterson, Robin: Spirit Bag
“The inspiration for this project came when I was traveling to Denver Colorado. There was a young woman in line in front of me carrying a backpack with a colorful fabric insert. I decided to create a small bag with a handwoven handspun front panel and embellished with charms on the front.
This project used all of my fiber equipment. The spinning wheel, the weaving loom, the sewing machine and jewelry tools all played a part in the creation. I even dyed the alpaca single to match the Suri locks.
Step 1. Spin
I core-spun the alpaca roving as a bulky single, using my vintage Poly-Pipy wheel. I incorporated the bits of Merino as random spots of color along the entire length. The colors really popped next to the dark alpaca.
Step 2. Weave
I warped the loom at 6 ends per inch per inch using a wool warp. I intended to use the alpaca singles in the kit but I needed more than 50 yards. The front of the bag required a woven piece at least 16” wide by 18” long. After about 12 inches of weaving, I ran out of the black alpaca handspun. Luckily in my stash, I had some alpaca roving that was very similar in color to the Suri locks. I spun another bobbin of bulky singles, added it to the weaving already on the loom, and this section ended up at the bottom of the bag. The completed fabric was very sturdy and suitable for the front of the purse.
Step 3. Cut and Sew
I used a paper pattern with a modified rectangle shape for the bag front, the leather back panel and the silk lining. I added a small phone pocket to the lining. The secret to the structure of the bag is a spongy interfacing that is used for quilting. It is perfect for the job of supporting the purse without adding much weight. I used 2 zippers, and combined them to make one double-headed zip for the top of the bag. After sewing the main pieces were together, I boxed the corners and trimmed the interfacing. After closing the opening in the lining, I added some cute red leather zipper pulls I rescued from a thrift shop bag.
Step 4) The Baling Twine Shoulder Strap
The blue nylon baling twine was incorporated as the flexible core for the strap. This was covered with matching leather. The strap handles were finished with snap clips, and strap rings were embedded into the side seams for the shoulder strap attachment.
Step 5) The Charms
I created charm embellishment with the emu feathers and the Suri locks,
I used two hand-made glass beads for the feather charms—these can be removed from the purse and worn as earrings. The tassels were made from the Suri locks with a wrapping of the alpaca singles yarn, with nice large bead caps to hold them. I made two of these as well, as the tassels can be removed and used as earrings as well. And also they make great cat toys.”