Feb 25
Spinning Retreat
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This past weekend, from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon, my friend, Sandy F., and I attended a spinning retreat at the Lindenwood Retreat Center in Donaldson Indiana. (www.lindenwood.org) There were about 30 women there, all with spinning wheels, from all over Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. We could have registered twice that many people had there been room for them.

Part of the fun of these retreats, is the chance to converse with other, like-minded people. We are all liberals, into sustainable farming, buying food and fiber from local farmers and producers, and getting back to the basics. We are nurses, mathematics professors, ministers, scientists, teachers, SCA reinactors, historians, writers, artists, etc. We are generous, supportive, loving, and full of laughter, smiles and hugs. There was conversation, singing, intellectual discussions, and debates. Fiber was swapped, bought and given away to those who would appreciate it.

And, all the time, the spinning wheels went around and around. For all the fun and discussion going on, there was a LOT of yarn spun. And the variety of the fiber being spun was incredible. People were spinning merino, Targhee, silk, Icelandic, alpaca, llama, Cotswold, and blends of every sort imaginable. It was very interesting and educational getting to touch the fibers and see how they wanted to be spun. Some wanted to be spun textured and some gossamer fine. And the colors! It was a veritable colorwheel with every shade imaginable and then some. I think I was the lone person spinning white.

How much did I get done? I spun about 10 ounces of a very fine Targhee wool, getting 8 ounces to a bobbin because of the fineness of the yarn and the way my Woolie Winder packed it on tightly. I was teased a bit for spinning all while wool, but, since I am natural dyer and have a definite project in mind for this yarn, I didn’t see white all the time. I saw the indigo blues and cochineal reds and the purple blending of the two that this yarn will become.

My friend, Sandy, plied together some beautiful Icelandic yarn she had spin and the resulting yarn is a lovely blend of grays, white and brown. She wants to learn how to weave and make a poncho with it.

Needless to say, we have our deposits for next year’s retreat in already and it’s on the calendar for the one vacation day we will need. And, yes, I may be taking white again next year to spin and see the colors in my mind’s eye of what it will be eventually.

Feb 6
Class is Nearly Done!
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We are at the place in the weaving classes where the students understand what they are doing, have designed their first project, warped the looms and the weaving is progressing nicely. In fact, as I sat with two of my students for a make-up session last night (I was sick one weekend and wasn’t able to have class), I enjoyed the concentration, the clacking of the looms, the murmurs and exclamations of pleasure from their results. My students now know the basics of weaving on four-harness, Jack-type looms. In fact, all have expressed a desire to purchase looms, two have expressed a desire to learn how to spin their own yarns (one already spins), and most have pumped me for more information on Dye Day and are making plans to have that day off work so they can attend it.

The enjoyment of knowing I have passed on skills that they will enjoy for the rest of their lives is boundless. Knowing that they will be able to make beautiful, handwoven items for themselves and their friends and families fills me with a deep sense of being part of a continuing line from the past far into the future. I may be just one dot on that line, but I am a happy dot.

Needless to say, I have learned a lot from them as well. I have learned better ways to teach this class, and the next class will benefit from this experience. I have learned how no two people view the same task exactly alike, even when taught the same skills at the same time. All five of my students’ designs were as different from one another as they could possible get. And that is cool! They learn from each other as well. They learn from each other’s mistakes and try not to repeat them. They learn from each other’s projects and see something they might want to try.

I know there are a lot of things I would not want to teach, but teaching weaving has become a huge joy in my life and I cannot wait until my summer class to begin. If you are in the area of Pendleton, Indiana, and want to learn how to weave, my next class is on the Saturdays from July 12th through August 16th. That is the last three Saturdays in July and the first three in August. I hope to see you there!