spinning


Juggling each part of my life is a skill I’m learning quite well.  Fitting fiber into the daily circus is yet another challenge; but I would say it’s a necessary one. It provides me with satisfaction–making something beautiful hopefully, and it gives a focus beyond meals, children, and my day job.  Sometimes, the little projects keep things on an even keel.

I finished this little project last weekend.  It sat waiting for months and after my friend Annie got me back on track, I was able to finish it.

I’ve had a bag full of fiber in my closet for the longest time.  I finally grabbed three hanks and spun them individually before plying.  It was a combination of mohair, wool, and suri alpaca.  I thought I wanted to make socks, but the fabric was too dense.  Maybe a hat, but I’ll have to see.

I did manage to warp my loom a couple of weeks ago when I had two solid days to devote to it.  This week, I’ve carved out time to weave.  The fabric on the bottom is hand-spun as weft, the top half is the same yarn as the warp, creating more of a textural pattern.  I hope to use this fabric for a coat.

Finally, I am busy planning another weaving project.  One of my guilds is studying krokbragd.  So I’m trying to figure out the yarns for the project.  I often use my “Yarn Store in a Box” from Halcyon Yarns for planning because there are so many sample cards to work with.

So I may not be able to juggle like a circus clown, but I can juggle projects and other responsibilities like a pro– most of the time.  Until I drop the ball.

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I’ve got one of her books and a DVD, but there’s nothing like meeting Judith MacKenzie face to face.  I had the wonderful good fortune to be invited to the home of a new friend last weekend, who just happens to be friends with Judith.  While she was visiting this woman, they decided to host a workshop on Wheel Mechanics and Spinning the Diameter of Yarn You Want.  It was that great combination of learning and good fun.

I have found over the years, that the best instructors are those who combine technical knowledge with good storytelling abilities.  Jacey Boggs has that quality and Judith has it in spades.  This woman has had a full and interesting life!  And she shares her tales with gusto.

So you walk away from her workshops needing time to process all her wonderful tips about the science and art of spinning while also smiling about her stories, adventures and passion for history and experience.

It was an amazing day and I will treasure it.

Jacey Boggs taught a 2-day workshop for my guild last weekend. Now I know why she’s the rock star of fiber!  Both in style and technical know-how, this chick rocks it out of the park.

To make people feel comfortable, she wore a sweater at the beginning of class.  Then she explained to the mostly middle-aged crowd that she had tattoos and “did we mind” if she took off her sweater.  Yep, her arms are pretty covered, but the magic of her spinning instruction quickly overshadowed her body art.

Jacey offers instruction on a multiple of cool art yarns.  These aren’t just thrown together willy-nilly.  She has figured out the technical approach to making art yarns that can be controlled and duplicated with any fiber you choose. She also talked about what you can do with the yarns and feels they are particularly appropriate for accents to knitting and weaving projects.

Coils, fauxcle, corespinning, wrapping, attaching foreign objects, you name it, we tried it.  The group was so enthusiastic which made it particularly fun.

We were enchanted with Jacey’s winning personality and her straightforward approach to teaching us all her secrets.  She was a gem of an instructor.  We learned so much.

I would recommend a workshop by Jacey any day.  But book her now.  She is so popular, she is scheduling up to 2 years in advance.  By the way, I interviewed her for an episode of WeaveCast.  I am still editing the audio but when it’s ready to post, Syne Mitchell will be sure to put the word out.

My husband and son went away this weekend to indulge their auto racing interests.  My other two kids were off doing their own thing at various times.  Which left me on my own for the first time in a long, long while.  What to do?  There was a plethora of choices, but in the end, fiber won out.

I usually have several projects going simultaneously, but they have languished while I launched the Craft a Guild website and book last month.  Now that it is going along nicely, I returned to unfinished projects and started another.

A spinning group has just been started in my guild and it met for the first time at Cornerstone Yarns in Richfield.  Five ladies and I had a lovely time spinning and talking for a couple of hours.  I hope I’ll be able to make it a regular activity.  Especially since I was able to use some fiber I’ve had for several years.

Then, Saturday, my daughter and I attended the Lakewood Arts Festival where many talented vendors had items for sale.  I ran into my friend Deborah Yorde of Craftsman Hill Fibers in Mt. Vernon, OH.  She had lovely silk scarves for sale and they were selling at a good clip.

Last night, after a full day out, I finished the socks I’ve been working on for so long.  They are now in the back yard, blocked on a towel and drying in the breeze.

Finally, I managed to do the first dyeing step on the woven shibori stole.  I let the colors batch for almost 24 hours and they came out much brighter than my sample from earlier this summer. Today I decided to use water from my rain barrel to wash out the dye.  That worked out beautifully!  I used about 10 gallons to rinse.

Let’s just say, I was exhausted.  But in a good kind of way.

I’d like to announce a new venture I am launching today called Craft a Guild.  This name respresents both a website and an e-book that I have put together to serve the fiber guild community.

Many of us belong to a guild and invest our time and energy into serving it while also enjoying the learning and fellowship that it represents.  Craft a Guild was written to help people have healthy vibrant guilds in their fiber-focused areas.

If you’re a knitter, sewer, weaver, spinner, dyer, felter, lace maker, or beader this site is for you. You’ll find information about starting a guild, finding a guild that meets your interests, or advancing the mission of your existing guild.

On the site, I am offering the book for sale plus the chance to subscribe to a monthly newsletter.  If you subscribe, you’ll get a copy of my 12 Tips for Effective Craft Workshops.

Here’s a look at the front page.

I hope you’ll take the time to visit Craft a Guild and see what you think.  Feel free to leave comments and suggestions.

I will still maintain Between the Threads.  This will always be the place where I can talk about my personal fiber pursuits!

Every year during Memorial Day weekend, Wooster, Ohio hosts the Great Lakes Fiber Show.  When I first started attending there were enough vendors to fill one building at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.  This year, they filled four buildings with vendors and open field with alpaca farmers and another building with workshops.  It’s grown into quite a show with something for every knitter, spinner and weaver.  There is equipment everywhere including carders, combs, spinning wheels and this year I saw many, many rigid heddle looms for sale.  Rigid heddle is a great entry way into weaving, but seems to be gaining popularity with even experienced weavers.

The vendor below sells buffalo fiber and it’s incredibly soft and warm.  Here she demonstrates to a patron how to drum card the fiber.

A big favorite at the festival is the appearance of all those adorable animals.

I managed to get through the festival with just one hank of fiber from Creatively Dyed Yarns and a circular knitting needle.  I was lucky I had an unusual amount of discipline.

A couple of years ago I took a workshop with Liz Spear from the Asheville area on sewing with handwoven fabric.  (There are so many good workshop leaders from Asheville). We picked out a pattern, made a practice muslin, wove several yards of cloth and came prepared to cut our beloved yardage and make a garment.  Liz removed the fear, taught us some outstanding sewing techniques and we all finished wonderful pieces.

Late last year, I finished another jacket.  This time I wove yardage with a mix of colors and sizes of cotton threads.  When I wore the jacket for Easter, I realized I had never posted pictures of it.  Here I am modeling it in my garden on Easter Sunday.

The contrasting collar is the result of weaving some of my tencel/silk/cotton handspun yarn into the yardage.

The previous jacket I made was constructed of a wool/silk blend.  With this cotton fabric, I learned that I had to be careful because the pieces can grow over time. So stabilizing the shape is critical.

I’ve been sewing since I was a teenager, but I enjoy it more today because I can design the cloth on my loom.

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