Monday, March 16, 2009

busy beads ~

Yesterday was bead day at Kathy's. She donated a bead event at her daughter's band fundraising auction. Twelve people registered to participate and enjoy a bead-u-ful day! (pretty stupid, huh?)

Every table was covered in beads: on strings, in cups, and later on the floor (sorry!). So many incredible colors it was hard not to go around and finger everything.

Glass, stone, semi-precious, metal ~ she had everything ready for us as soon as we arrived.

Not only is Kathy "Ferndale Fibers", but she was a college biology teacher before children and the full impact of fiber came into her life. And a somewhat secret fact.....Kathy was my college biology teacher! Unbelievable, I know. She was hardly five years older than me at the time.

With her education background, Kathy is great at teaching classes and giving lectures. She has a natural curiosity that allows her to investigate and then share all sorts of details about whatever she is involved in ~ including beading.

Just like any good teacher, our lesson was well planned. We were given a tool, bead, and technique orientation, and then she let us loose on the beads.

As usual, give me too many things to choose from and I simply just get confused. I loved ALL the different types of beads, but knew that my mood is more bright color oriented right now. I picked up many cups of warm toned natural beads but kept heading back to the bright colors.

Once our beads were selected, we each had a place at the table with a beading mat and supplies.

I went for the brightest colors in the room ~ yellow, orange/red with silver tones.

This little missy is almost done with her rich, earth toned string. I was busy stringing seed beads which took a very long time.

Kathy helped by finishing up our pieces when it came time to put on the crimp beads and clasps ~ here's my yellow and red!

Kathy also gave us a tour of her fiber mill. She has the biggest carding machine I have ever seen. She didn't run it at all yesterday, but when I've been out before I've seen it in action. It amazes me that it moves slowly. When looking at such a big piece of machinery, I had just assumed it was ripping and tearing at the fiber. But no, it moves nice and slow...

Above is a image of the "loading end" ~ this is where she places the fiber to start the carding process.

Kathy does the whole thing when it comes to wool. She washes, dyes and cards it. Below is her dye shelf.

Her "biggest" seller these days is Potluck Roving. She reprocesses wool top into roving. She takes already processed wool, dyes it in her special colorways and then cards/blends it on her carder. She puts up the roving in 8 oz balls that she sells wholesale.

She also does a limited amount of fiber processing, but only to her existing customer list I hear. She's been in such demand for processing that she isn't able to take on any new customers.

Above are the rollers that direct the carded wool into the size she uses for her roving.

Here's a closer look at the carding cloth. It is amazing when you think that the carding cloth is really the most expensive part of hand cards ~ this is some valuable cloth!

After seeing the "industrial" end ~ we got to visit with some wool on the hoof. This is Buddy ~ Kathy's bottle fed friend.

And again, the finished product. Now I have to go get out my beads and twittle around. It is really nice to get together with people for a craft day ~ inspiring to say the least!
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Potluck Roving: Below are some links to sites that sell Kathy's Potluck Roving ~ it is lovely stuff!
Northwest Handspun Yarns in Bellingham, WA
Paradise Fibers in Spokane, WA


  1. I can see that you are enjoying your days of unemployment a great deal- you are very good at it...You must never have a job's just not natural. You must bead and spin and knit and weave your life forevermore...nevermind the bills- The word "bills" is know what to do with that. Loved your day at Kathy's!

  2. Wow. That carder is tremendous. In my frequent daydreams I have a carder like that,, and a little custom fiber processing operation. Didn't know she had a biology background. That is really interesting!