Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool, the Attack of the Dirty Towel Girls, and a Recipe, Too

A wonderful thing happens when women gather around the crafting table.  Conversation, laughter, and creativity make for a convivial afternoon.  Burdens grow lighter, moods grow happier, and everyone  leaves the gathering with renewed energy and purpose.  I was blessed to have the opportunity to participate in four solid days of such warm and wonderful crafty community at the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York.

While we had one rainy day, the remainder of the show was postcard perfect.  This Florida girl misses changing seasons, so it was a thrill to see the leaves!!!

These wonderful ladies refused to let a torrential downpour dampen their creative spirits!
The schedule was arduous...but the women were AMAZING.  We played with hand dyed wool and soapy water to create lovely felted soaps, bohemian chic felted hoop earrings, and nuno felted scarves and shawls worthy of a runway!

My pal, Monica Durazo flew in from Tucson to assist with the classes. We met in Tucson during the Gem Show several years ago.  I hired her to do a felting demonstration at my booth at To Bead True Blue because I was anxious to add Fibers to our product line.  I quickly became a fan of Monica AND felt making!  We make a great team and often teach together.  Her assistance is invaluable when navigating a large classroom with twenty students each at her own table, but there is an added bonus for the workshop participants.  Felting is a very organic, individual pursuit. The rules are somewhat fluid and there are many opportunities for experimentation.  Monica and I have very different styles and techniques, which we both share freely, so students enjoy the benefit of having two different points of view, which is always good. 

Nina Birnbaum's use of color and texture was amazing!
One of the highlights of the workshops was the ability to use spectacular Swarovski Crystal Elements in every creation!  Swarovski sponsored my workshops and the ladies were delighted to have the opportunity to bling their creations!  While many chose sew on stones to embellish their pieces, others were happier to simply iron on the glitz. I have to say, as a former embroidery snob, I have definitely learned to appreciate the ease of Hot Fix Swarovski Crystal!

The hardest part?  Choosing what sparkle to use!!!  The ladies had quite a palette from which to select: Swarovski Crystal Sequins, Chessboard Stones, De Arte Sew Ons and more.  It was a veritable treasure trove of Sparkly Crystal Goodness!

So many Crystals, So little time! 

 My favorite part?  Watching the gals step "outside of the box" to try colors that might be a bit bolder than their norm, to add crystal to a garment that they would previously have considered functional rather than ornamental,  to LET GO and push beyond their comfort level!!!  It takes courage to step outside of ourselves and these ladies had it GOING ON!

Check out the organic flow of Monica's masterpiece!

I wanted to steal Alice's creation for my was FABULOUS!
Jan uses Swarovski Crystal to sparkle to her dramatic fringed scarf.
Barbara Giguere's use of color was an inspiration but it was her ribbon embroidery that made this scarf really come to life.  The photo does not do it justice.  Check out the killer Bakelite buttons on her sweater. 

It was a thrill to see the ladies modeling their nuno felted scarves!
The nuno felting definitely created a visual BUZZ when the gals walked the fairgrounds, but there was other felting magic happening as well.  The fiber hoop earring class was a great opportunity to learn how to felt over a hard form, which left the gals with skills that would extend well beyond a pair of earrings!  It is the same technique that I use to felt lamp bases and candlesticks!  After all, Felt is a spectacular medium for home decor.  It was fun to hear the ladies in my Felted Soap class talking about all of the holiday presents they were going to make when they went home.  It is a good thing, because I sent each of them home with plenty of fiber, Swarovski Crystal and soap!
Cindy Perry shows off the soap she made in class.  I wish I had a picture of the beautiful shawl that she made the following day!
Felted Soaps with Swarovski Crystal make AWESOME hostess gifts!

Jane used drama in both her flowers and her scarf!

While the event was a resounding success, it wasn't without a touch of drama!  Monica and I decided to do some felt making in the hotel room but had forgotten to pack extra towels for the job.  I use Acid Dyes which will only stick to protein fibers such as wool and silk, so I decided to use the hotel towels.  They were 100% cotton and I knew that they would wash clean.  We were busy little bees buzzing around the hotel room at 2:00 in the morning making felt and reconnecting.  It was great!  Until it wasn't.

See, I forgot about the formerly white hotel towels that were now sporting shades of pink, purple and yellow.  The ones that I left on the floor of the hotel bathroom. The ones that caused the housekeeper great anxiety and forced her to alert hotel management.  RUH ROH!

 Imagine my surprise when the director of the show appeared at my workshop tent to discuss the "Towel Incident."   My room was stripped of linens and the hotel management was in an uproar.  YIKES!  I was the bad girl!!!!   I am NEVER the bad girl!!!! 

My first time at Rhinebeck and now Monica and I were known as "The Dirty Towel Girls."  Sigh.

Monica and I turned the hotel room into a studio!
 I offered to pay for any damage and promised that I would take care of it.  The workshop participants knew that something was going on, so I had to confess.  They all thought it was a hoot and there were lots of giggles as we imagined how we would negotiate the remainder of the trip without sheets or towels.  Happily, by the time we returned to the hotel, the towels had been washed, the dye DID NOT stain, and we were allowed to have linens once again.  The manager even provided extra towels for that night's In Room Felting Extravaganza.  WHEW!  The Crisis was averted, but I fear that I will forever be known as The Dirty Towel Girl.  It could be worse, I suppose!

I got back from New York late Monday night and am leaving for the Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival in less than 24 hours.  I cannot wait ... I will be teaching three workshops and am lucky to have Swarovski sponsoring those as well.  The students are in for a sparkly treat!

Time is tight as I try to re-organize and re-pack for this trip.  Hubby is feeling a tad neglected and I want to make sure that he gets a nice home cooked meal before I leave again.  One of my Go To recipes when I have too much to do but want to create a meal that looks like I spent a whole lot of time in the kitchen is Shrimp Pasta. 

8 ounces of pasta
One pound of shrimp, cleaned and deveined
½ cup of olive oil
8 cloves of garlic, chopped (don’t be scared by the amount of garlic…it works!)
2 or 3 dashes of soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup of white wine (I sometimes substitute sherry, or use a bit of each)
2 cups of heavy cream (I use whipping cream)
Tomato sauce (about a half a cup…..I eyeball this one)
Optional:  crab meat (canned is fine), red pepper flakes (if you like a little fire)
Cook the pasta until ALMOST al dente.  Drain.  Lightly saute the garlic in olive oil in large sauce pan.  Do not brown the garlic.  Add wine, soy sauce, heavy cream, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, if using.  I generally like the soft to be a soft pink, not a full on tomato red.  Stir.  Add the shrimp (and crab if you have it) and the linguine.  Stir gently and cook over medium high heat until shrimp are done and the pasta is cooked.  Serve at once.  The sauce can be a little runny, but don’t worry…it sets up beautifully.  A ridged pasta noodle works great because it “grabs” the sauce.  YUM!