Thursday, April 9, 2009

Field Trip - Esther's Place

The weatherman has promised that spring is on the way. He's lied before but I'll take his word on it this time around. I've decided now that we've seen the last of winter I'm going to take you on a road trip once a week. It may be a major road trip like my planned visit to Wisconsin to meet the Milk Man's Wife and little Milk Dud or it may be something as simple as going to lunch at Alice's Place. My intent is to show you the places and people that make up our communities and our life in the midwest.

Last Friday the weather was nice and I headed out to record our first official road trip together.

The distance - 17.18 miles
The place - Big Rock, Illinois
Our destination - Esther's Place

Big Rock is a small town just south and west of us. There's a RV dealership, a couple of small manufacturing businesses, a post office, a cafe, a grain elevator (of course) and Esther's Place.

The Lehrer family moved to Big Rock nine years ago, leaving their suburban and corporate lives behind to live their dream on on a property they named Lamb of God farm. They raise organic produce and a flock of sheep. Their country life evolved and daughter Natasha and her mom Donna opened Esther's Place which is a shop devoted to fiber arts. You might remember we visited once before when my friend Ellen and I took a drop spindle spinning class.

The shop is located in this beautiful old Victorian home. It's just as lovely inside.

The front window has a vignette featuring a beautiful spinning wheel.

Sunlight spills on these beautiful skeins of yarn. Such yummy colors.

The roving is displayed in an old nesting box. (Roving is wool that hasn't been spun into yarn.)

Here's the lovely Natasha. She invited me and another customer to sit down and do a needle felting project. I'd never done this before and was interested in the technique.

We arranged tufts of wool on a thick foam pad. Look - Natasha and her mom made tea for us!

Natasha demonstrates how to layer a few more colors and begin needle felting using the sharp tools.

If you look at wool under a microscope you'd see that it has barb like structures. The needle has tiny ridges which cause the barbs to hook together as you push the needle up and down.

Here's the larger tool. See how the wool starts to flatten out?

As the work progresses you can shape it with your fingers.

We added a bit of curly wool to the center.

Here's a finished flower that has been embellished with beads. I love this color combination.

You are not going to believe what you can do with needle felting. Look at this.....

These little animals were made using the needle felting technique. These things are stinking cute!! They sell them as kits.

I was on a strict budget this day but I'm going back because I want to make one of those little doggies. The Corgi is adorable. Oh heck, they're all adorable.

If you're in northern Illinois be sure to get off the beaten path and head to Esther's Place in Big Rock. If you can't visit in person be sure to visit their website.


Here are their needle felted kits: (Be prepared for an overdose of cute)


Thanks for coming along with me today. You'll never know where our next road trip might take an old Norwegian cabin or perhaps a storm chasing adventure??


Heidi said...

OH SO MUCH FUN!!! That looks like a blast! Truth be told, I have a fabric, yarn and thread fettish that would rival Imelda Marco's shoe closet... not good... I have dreams of rolling with the Milk Man in skeins of dyed heaven.. um, sorry got off track - What a great little trip that must have been. I would love to learn somthing like that, those animals are to cute!!

Susan said...

I probably could have done a lot of damage at Esther's Place. Those dogs are adorable..and the nativity. Thanks for sharing the website.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! The fairy, the gnome, the birds.... how cute is this stuff... VERY CUTE1

The Blue Ridge Gal

chocolatechic said...

How wonderful.

I love it.

I heart wool yarn.

Vee said...

That was great, Suzanne. Is that orange flower your creation? It looks marvelous. I can just see it pinned on a sweater or jacket, hat or purse...what wonderfulness. Yes, take us back there again and have your checkbook with ya. ;>

Vee said...

Oh no! I just saw the sweetest felted birds. Ackkk! I wanted you to have your checkbook out, not me!

Becky said...

Thanks for the play-date, Suzanne! I had a great time. Have a great day!

Mim said...

You may have inspired a road trip. I will be up that way at the end of the month. We may just have to make a little sidetrip over to Esther's. Thanks!

Kitty said...

What a fab little shop! Thanks for the tour. Needle arts have always been a favorite of mine and my hubby and I have always thought that raising sheep would be fun. I admire Natasha, at such a young age, to be able to set her sights on something she obviously loves and bring it to fruition. We need to support the small businesses in our areas and keep them going. Buy local!

PatQ said...

I'll have to put that on my to do list. I've never been out there before but it looks like a fun place.

Karen said...

All that wool !! And those colours!!

I only use natural fibers, like wool, silk, cotton, bamboo, etc, when I knit. I really hate the man-made yarns..

I've never tried felting though .. it seems to be all the rage around here..

Are their wools suitable for ordinary knitting. as in not felting ?

lifeinredshoes said...

You find the best places...and you share them. Thank you!

Suzanne said...

Heidi - Fabric, yarn and thread fetish. Really?? I wouldn't know a thing about that. What? You're asking about the bedroom that's totally devoted to such. You're hallucinating girl.

Susan - They offer classes and even kids can do this - carefully, because those needles are very sharp.

Di - Yes, the gnome. Everyone needs one.

Chocolatechic - I heart it also. That shop is like being in wool heaven, if there is such a thing.

Vee - No, the orange flower was someone else's creation. It was more refined that my flower and the addition of beading makes it even more special. After our little mini-class the other woman actually attached it to her wool felted handbag by simply using the needle felt method - no thread! I'm definitely going back and perhaps doing one of the classes that produces a dog.

Becky - Thanks for coming along. I love the "play-date" thing. It's more accurate than road trip but I was trying to find a way to categorize all the trips we'll be taking over the summer.

Mim - Definitely! You must go. I was going to eat at the cafe but after my little class I needed to get home and cook for the Farmer. He does require dinner. HA.

Kitty - I agree! Buy local and support locally owned businesses. Natasha is very knowledgeable and loves what she does. Her mother is an organized force to be dealt with - working with others to get state legislation passed that pertains to fiber as a commodity and also small farm issues. I'll return and interview her more about those subjects.

Pat - You must get out there. It's a lovely place.

Karen - I agree. I only like the natural fibers. Bamboo is my new favorite. As someone who sews I love that it's soft and drapes beautifully. I have a crocheted bamboo scarf that is my favorite. All their wools are suitable for knitting or crocheting. You can even knit with the roving using large needles. She's got some beautiful examples in the store.

Red Shoes - Yes, I play well with others and I share. Two great attributes....... in a toddler!!!

Thanks everyone for going along on our first official road trip of the season!

Jody Blue said...

I would want to touch every thing in that place! Thanks for the places you take us!

Louise said...

I SO don't want to get into felting, but OMG those flowers are to die for! I like field trips if I'm not driving a carload of someone else's kids!

Anonymous said...

I love your creation Suzanne..absolutely adorable.
Oh, all i can say to the girls is 'good luck' with all those adorable lambs on the
luv Ann,xx