Saturday, December 22, 2012

Making holiday decorations

Since I have been the crafty holiday mood I thought that I would share some of them with you. 

A quick note to say that I did take some xmas ornaments with me when I moved to Spain, but they are few, and in a very nicely packed box. Currently I really do not know where that box is. I am just glad that I have them for later. 

This xmas we have a real tree for the first time, which means that it is really small, because it is a potted plant. We hope to have it for many years.

So in order to decorate said tree, I got two tubes of small ornamental bulbs. They were very cheap looking so I also bought some glitter glue and had some fun with it. It was a couple of weeks before I remembered that I also had acrylic paint (see the White tree and "s" below).

 Then I of course, used both at the same time.

And I could not just leave the tree up there all alone so I made a winter wonderland below complete with giant balls of yarn...

using some of my characters from a unsuccessful diorama.

Then I broke out the bigger ornaments.

I of course got bored with the paint and glitter, and started to try and incorporate yarn.

Then I made decorative yarn ball ornaments.

Then I wrapped the cheap plastic ornaments in ribbon yarn.

 Here are the bigger ornaments on display at the window.

And the free standing felt tree now lives with some felted critters I made (and a stone zebra I did not).

What are you doing to decorate this year? Anything crafty?
The next thing I need is a garland, because I have company coming this year!

Friday, December 21, 2012


One day last week I experienced the magic of Christmas for the first time this season. I had had the brillant idea of listening to Christmas music while on my crowded one hour and three train metro comute to work. It was wonderful. With the sound track of the holidays playing the metro was transformed from a dirty tube crowded with hot and cranky people into a cheerful and bright place.

But best of all? I was listen to the Waltz of the Flowers from nutcracker when I emerged from the bowels of the metro station to find the Telefonicas' campus transformed into a winter wonderland of lights.

 There were deer and snowmen in amongst the trees. 

Even the magnolias trees were hung with lights. There were santas scattered around, and even a huge Christmas tree made completely out of white lights that twinkled with every movement. (Sorry there are no pictures of that - it was too dark. For those of you wondering, I took these at about 8:20 and no sun yet.)

Belén's are springing up everywhere. Belén literally means Bethlehem in Spanish, it is also a popular girls name and what they call the naivety scenes. There are some spectacular ones. Some are impressive and made of rock or wood with huge figures taller then a man. Some are so tiny and detailed you know that they are done by an artist. (I will endeavor to take some around the city soon, now that I am on break and have more time.) 
But I think the most charming things about the Beléns is that there are supplies to build them popping up in stores and Christmas markets everywhere, and that every other store seems to have one. There is always a little surprise in each one. This one was in a window of an insurance agent.

Do you see the Caganer?

Do you see the woman at her spinning wheel?

Another magical thing about December is that all of the woolly fashion is coming out in the stores and out of closets, because baby, it's cold outside.
I'll admit to Kinnearing these photos on or around the metro.

This first one was of a woman that had the most beautiful coat on. It was black wool with silk (?) ribbon embroidery making colorful flower shapes. I only got the corner of her coat here, but I think that it gives ou an idea of the splendor.

This next one was new for me: a sheepskin coat with the wool still on it. Even though I felt the usual revolution at the fact that she was wearing fur, I was fascinated by the concept and maybe a little intrigued. Talk about "in sheep's clothing" (she cut me off on the way in and out of the metro).

Then there are the sweaters for sale in the shops. There are so many. I really only take pictures of the ones that I like or hate. I really need to put together a blog post just about them.

This one was the ugliest sweater/outfit that I have ever seen. Maybe an example of why not to do intarsia with "fashion" yarn?

This one is a beautiful fair-isle (or stranded) yoked sweater, but  the neck was drawn in with a rather thick I-cord. Looking at it I still can not tell you wether I love it or hate it. It is certainly an inventive idea.

 I hope the holiday spirt is with you too!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Plaza de Colón

Things have been so busy since moving and starting a new job that I forgot to post these pictures I took of Plaza de Colón on November 21st just before my Campaña de la Lana photos. I had always seen Colón out of the window of the bus, and I have even explored the other side once, but I had never been to this side.

This building represents what I love about Madrid. Old stately buildings right next to modern ones. This one can be found on Calle de Génova at the entrance to Plaza de Cólon.

On the West side of the plaza this lady is to be found. By Fernando Botero "A Woman with a Mirror".

(Which has been a subject of yarn bombing in the past:)

 Then if you look above and beyond the woman you see the statue of Columbus, or Cólon in Spanish. Remember that Queen Isabella was the one that funded his fateful journey across the ocean. I believe that there is still debate about which country he is from, but I know that there is no debate in Spain. He is Spanish here.

To the right (or South) of the Cólon statue is the National library.

To the left (North) is one of the many angels that decorate the rooftops of Madrid.

To the West (and to one side of the Botero is again, that clash of old meeting new...

....and to the right of that is a small, cute, little, guardhouse?

The trees down the center of the Paseo de la Castellana were stately showing their fall glory...

while the buildings of the Salamanca barrio were harmonizing with the autumn colors.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Getting ready for the holidays

For some reason this year I feel very festive. As we get closer to the holiday (and the first time I have ever had family over during the holiday) we are all getting ready.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

End of fall and dying (wool)

It looks like fall here in Madrid is ending. Where the air was crisp, now it is biting. 
The trees in my park are showing their last burst of yellow.

While on the walk to my old apartment the red leaves are fading.

Today we finally officially move out of our old apartment. We have been living in the new apartment since November 2nd but as the leases over lapped during November and our landlady lives in Murcia we are only getting around to handing over the keys today. We are getting out just in time, the other place has a mold problem you would not believe.

Yesterday I started experimenting with acid dyes and wool top. I have a lot more to learn then I expect when I started. I need to use smaller amounts of fiber and start a dye notebook. Also I really need to find citric acid crystals here in Madrid. White wine vinegar smells horrible and the white vinegar that you get in the States doesn't exist here (it is made of corn, corn is not really grown here). 

I used 8 oz of Falkland wool. My theory is that if I do not end up felting this one (as Falkland is easy to felt) then I am golden, and I will not have to worry so much about felting in the future. Here is a photo of my ~50g fiber bundles in the pot already steamed and now cooling.

 I used two different ways of applying the dye and different lengths of color. I will spin this next to see just how compacted the fiber is and how the different lengths of the color look spun up. If it is felted I can always use it as core wool for needle-felting, I just have to wait until it is dry to know.

I used only three colors to start, turquoise, violet and grey. I learned from a master dyer once that if you use colors in the same quadrant of the color wheel you will not be taking any risks of clashing. 
Pictures of it drying on the terraza this morning: 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Campaign for wool - Spain

From my other blog, this is to good to miss reading about. English is in italics and Spanish is below.

I am going to break the Trashumancia posts and put up this post, due to the fact that if you live in Madrid, and do not know about the campaign for wool events going on this week, you will still have a chance to go and see some events and the art after you have read this post. 

Voy a interrumpir los posts sobre la Trashumancia para poner este post, debido al hecho de que si vivís en Madrid, y no sabéis acerca de los eventos de la Campaña por la Lana que están ocurriendo esta semana, tendréis la oportunidad de ir a ver algún evento y el arte después de haber leído este post.

Why the campaign for wool on a Spanish historical spinning blog? To me wool is the basis for spinning, and the Campaign for Wool is history in the making. From the Campaigns website:

The Campaign for Wool is a truly collaborative initiative involving farmers, textile manufacturers, carpet makers, fashion & interior designers and artisans from around the world.  The Campaign for Wool is jointly funded by six of the biggest trade wool textile organisations...

¿Por qué la campaña para la lana en un blog sobre la historia del hilado en España? Para mí, la lana es la base para el hilado, y la Campaña por la lana es historia en movimiento. Del sitio web Campañas:

La Campaña por la Lana es una iniciativa llevada a cabo por Su Alteza Real el Príncipe de Gales, quien ha observado que la industria lanera se enfrenta con retos enormes y sin precedentes. La Campaña por la Lana es multinacional, multisectorial, integradora y procura abarcar todos los profesionales de la lana, desde las grandes empresas hasta los artesanos.

The campaign is lead by the Prince of Wales and is an effort to bring awareness of the properties of wool and the decline of the use of wool in textiles. It is common in Spain, as well as UK, that farmers will bury or burn the wool, as it is an annoying extra product off the sheep that they want to use for meat or milk. I have heard the amount of money that they get from selling the wool is less then they have to pay the shearer to shear the sheep in the first place. All non primitive breeds have to be shorn every year or the fleece can get too heavy and cause the sheep health problems. What that means for us spinners is that the sheep are not valued for their wool and therefore they are not being breed for it, the quality goes down, and there is even the potential for the breeds that do not give good milk or meat to die out.

La campaña está dirigida por el Príncipe de Gales y es un esfuerzo para crear conciencia de las propiedades de la lana y la disminución del uso de la lana en el sector textil. Es común en España, al igual que en el Reino Unido, que los ganaderos entierren o quemen la lana, ya que es un molesto producto adicional de las ovejas que se desean utilizar para carne o leche. He oído que la cantidad de dinero que obtienen por la venta de la lana es menos que lo que tienen que pagar al esquilador para esquilar las ovejas. Todas las razas no primitivas necesitan ser esquiladas cada año o la lana puede ser demasiado pesada y causar problemas de salud a las ovejas. Lo que esto significa para nosotros los hilanderos es que las ovejas no son apreciadas por su lana y por lo tanto no están siendo criadas para ello, la calidad disminuye, e incluso existe la posibilidad de que las razas que no dan buena leche o carne desaparezcan.

To me this campaign is frightfully important to bring awareness to the consumer, spinner or not. The campaign makes an effort to link wool to the fashion world by having models pose with the sheep and encouraging stores to join the campaign and highlight their wool products. If the fashion world makes a greater demand for better wool, spinners will benefit. The fashion world has the main control of  the wool market, whereas us spinners are just a drop in the bucket. This campaign is going strong in at least 8 countries and counting and I hope that it continues to thrive.

Para mí esta campaña es terriblemente importante para hacer tomar conciencia a los consumidores, hilanderos o no. La campaña hace un esfuerzo por vincular la lana con el mundo de la moda al hacer posar a modelos con las ovejas y alentar a las tiendas para unirse a la campaña y destacar sus productos de lana. Si el mundo de la moda hace que haya una mayor demanda de mejor lana, los hilanderos se beneficiarán. El mundo de la moda tiene el control principal del mercado de la lana, nosotros los hilandores somos sólo un pequeño porciento. Esta campaña va fuerte en al menos 8 países por ahora y espero que siga prosperando.

Now back to Madrid, Lana Connection, an urban knitting/yarn bombing group here in Madrid has done a wonderful job of coordinating the wool art installations here in Madrid. From the Lana Connection website:

Ahora, de vuelta a Madrid, Lana Connection, un grupo de urban knitting/yarn bombing aquí en Madrid ha hecho un trabajo maravilloso coordinando las instalaciones de arte de lana aquí en Madrid. Desde el sitio web de conexión Lana:

This exhibition was the collaboration of the following groups here in Spain:

En esta intervención han colaborado los siguientes grupos de España:

  • LanaConnection (Madrid) Diseño y coordinación
  • Comunidad de tejedoras de Amo el Amigurumi (Alicante)
  • La Guerrilla del ganchillo (Barcelona)
  • La Ganxetes del Portia (Reus)
  • La guerrilla de Gilda (Lleida)
  • Loving club de (Mallorca)
  • Urban Knittng Bilbao
  • Urban Knitting Valencia
  • “Lacraftytienda” The Home Made (Vigo)
  • Urban Knitting Zaragoza
  • Yarn Bombing ACoruña
  • Madrid Knit

The theme for this year was the four seasons and they have done it well with two knitted or crocheted scenes from every season and themed knitted bunting running up and away from each season. I loved winter the best, but all of it was breath taking. A lot of work went into these and I am proud of the representation of my craft. As always click to enlarge. I have found a video that documents that yarn bombing by Lana Connection. 

El tema para este año fueron las cuatro estaciones del año y lo han hecho bien con dos escenas de punto o ganchillo por cada temporada, y ristras temáticas de punto conectando cada temporada. Me encantó el invierno sobre todo, pero todo fue impresionante. Se puso una gran cantidad de trabajo en cada uno y me siento orgullosa de la representación de mi medio. Como siempre clic para ampliar. He encontrado un video que documenta que yarn bombing por Lana Connection.

Winter / invierno

Winter / invierno

Winter / invierno

Winter / invierno

I love the Spanish touches, for example in the photo below the chocolate and churros....

Me encantan los detalles españoles, por ejemplo en la foto de abajo el chocolate y churros ....

Winter / invierno

and a three kings cake.

Y un roscón de reyes.

Winter / invierno

Summer / verano

Summer / verano

Summer / verano

Summer / verano

Summer / verano

Summer / verano

Spring / primavera

Spring / primavera

Autumn / otoño
Autumn / otoño
Autumn / otoño
On Serrano across from the Jardines del Descubrimiento were some educational stations about wool. Including un-processed and processed wool, a weaving demonstration, of course a spinning demonstration, and, naturally, sheep! There were at least four different breeds that I made out, and they certainly were attracting attention.

En Serrano frente a los Jardines del Descubrimiento había algunas estaciones educativas sobre la lana, incluyendo una sobre lana sin procesar y procesada, una demostración de tejido, por supuesto una demostración de hilado, y, naturalmente, las ovejas! Habían por lo menos cuatro razas diferentes por lo que yo sé, y ciertamente llamaban la atención de la gente.