I am delighted to present this weekend’s fiber artist, Jennifer Guyor, of Wild Lily Artisan Fibers. I first met Jennifer through my FB group Spin and Send event–I blogged about her beautiful hand spun just last month and saw some her fibers in person at Your Daily Fiber in Fort Collins, CO. I absolutely love her latest project, the ART BATTS Signature Series (amazing photos below!) As it turns out, Jennifer is also a bit of a wordsmith and I am sharing a longer-than-usual version of our correspondence below because she tells such fun and compelling stories. And, at the end of the interview is a bit of a surprise giveaway–scroll down and check it out! But first up, a round of beautiful pictures, courtesy of Jen. Enjoy!
How did Wild Lily Fibers come to be?
Creating things with fabric and fiber has always made me feel alive. I have been surrounded by these things for as long as I can remember, first learning to crochet with my Nana when I was five. I spent many delightful hours at her side watching the shiny hook and yarn create magical starched snowflakes, slippers and afghans. Somewhere along the way I learned to knit with a friend and embroider with my mother. Tasha Tudor was my hero!
While immersed in a homeschool lesson using the book “Warm as Wool” I decided we should visit a sheep ranch to see those captivating creatures up-close and hands-on. That chance reading and meeting opened up a whole new world of fleece preparation, spinning, and weaving.
Wild Lily Artisan Fibers came into being when I started working with Aniroonz Sheep Company. Suddenly I had access to the most lovely, clean farm fleece I had ever experienced – I just had to put it into the hands of other spinners! It’s like finding the best chocolate dessert ever and just wanting everyone to have a taste.
What kinds of fiber do you sell and why?
I sell a variety of fibers in different formats. Most start with a foundation of a next-to-skin-soft base: Merino, Rambouillet, Bond, CVM. And then I get carried away. I rehearse my mother’s mantra “less is more, less is more, less is more.” But sometimes more IS more so I generously blend faux cashmere, bamboo, sparkle, and silk of every kind I can get my hands on – until my carder won’t take another fluff. I diz roving, make rolags, batts. I’m not picky. Locks? Oh don’t get me started.
I’ve been really having a blast lately with two themed fiber preparations: Spin-me-a-Story and Fine ART BATTS.
As the granddaughter of a childrens’ librarian and a homeschooling mom I have been surrounded by picture books for decades! The illustrators’ choice of colors and textures intrigues me. I loved gathering together the colors of the classic “Where the Wild Things Are.” I plan to release one “story” each month – available in batt, rolag, or pulled roving form. “Wild Rumpus” was featured in the October Spinning Box “Monster Mash.”
The ART BATTS Signature Series came to me one day while cruising the bookstore at the Denver Art Museum. (And yes – as a fiber artist you are now doomed to see everything as a colorway!) I started thinking… What if I blended fibers together to mirror the palette chosen by artists in some of their best-known works? I WAS HOOKED! Beginning with artists of the Southwest I have composed lofty batts with the colors, layers, and textures of beautiful paintings. Each batt includes a museum post card to save and reflect upon as you create a spun or felted masterpiece.
What is your best advice to new spinners?
My best piece of advice for new spinners is to have an experienced spinner try out or tune up your wheel for you before you start. When I purchased my first wheel, an Ashford Traditional in pristine condition, it was almost 30 years old and had probably seen less than 20 hours of spinning time – the owner said she could just “never get the hang of it.” Thrilled beyond belief I started playing and practicing and fiddling. I was doing everything I thought was right – and getting no where fast. I just couldn’t get the tension adjusted and EVERY single time I slowed my treadling even slightly the wheel would jerk into reverse. It was frustrating!!! When I took it to my first class two months later, my instructor, Maggie Casey (not name dropping – just saying she’s awesome!) looked at it and in 30 seconds knew it needed the retrofit crank Ashford designed for that year’s lagging wheel and that my bobbins needed to be reamed out. Sixteen dollars later I had a wheel that spun like a dream…who knew?
My second best piece of advice would be to buy the cleanest fleece you can afford. My first fleece was affectionately known as my hazing fleece. It was a short-stapled, uncoated, dragged-from-a-pick-up-through-the-hay fleece. I was googling every tool, every video, every technique known to man to clean that thing…and I did. But in man-hours and tears…that is some seriously expensive yarn.
What is on your wheel at the moment?
I have a lovely, lofty new braid from the talented Cherish Stevens at Dandelions and Daisies…it happens to be the same colors of some shorter Teeswater locks I dyed back in early October. I’m envisioning them somehow coming together . . . and I just finished an amber-earthy-colored, funky, moderately textured bulky-weight yarn. With a base of natural brown springy-soft CVM and loaded with silk, bamboo and tweedy silk noil, it is woolen-spun and longish-draw – so quick results and great closure. While setting the twist I added some Thieves’ Oil to the final rinse and it is SO yummy to pet and squish and breathe in.
What is your dream yarn?
When I first started to spin I thought if I could ever make a yarn as gorgeous and luminous as the Malabrigo piedras Mecha…I would feel like I had succeeded. I’m still working on perfecting the single. But really, I take great satisfaction in the elegantly simple two-ply semi-woolen worsted weight yarn. I love the natural moorit, gray, and brown colors of the CVM fleeces I have the great pleasure to work with…they make the most sublime plain-jane yarn ever. Contented sigh.
How can interested buyers get in touch with you?
Interested buyers can get in touch with me via my Facebook page “Wild Lily Artisan Fibers.” There is a “shop now” button near the top of the page. To reach my store directly, use this address in its entirety: http://wildlilyartisanfibers.bigcartel.com/
My spinning fibers and yarns are also available in stores along the northern Front Range in Colorado. Look for the Wild Lily Artisan Fibers or the Aniroonz Sheep Company label. In addition to YarnFest, Estes Wool Market, and the Taos Wool Festival, we hope to add to next year’s schedule another show, likely Black Sheep. I sell fleeces, rug yarn and pelts via Ravelry “Llewsilla” and Aniroonz Sheep Company on Facebook.
And now for the GIVEAWAY!
Jennifer is testing out the newest Spin-Me-a-Story combination, the December Spin-Me-A-Story, which is based on Jan Brett’s lovely book “The Wild Christmas Reindeer.” In Jennifer’s words, “Growing up with a Lithuanian and Slovakian heritage I just love the familiar Eastern European detail woven into the beautiful scenes on every page. The yarn spun from this batt will feel nostalgic and…well, merry. I would love to share some of these fibers with one lucky blog reader!”
To enter to win, please do the following:
1) leave a comment on this post
2) “like” Wild Lily Artisan Fiber’s Facebook page
We will draw a lucky winner and announce next Saturday!
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Thanks so much, Jennifer!
I love meeting new people (and sheep!) and hearing more about fiber fun: if you are a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above)