Feb 29

Due to some conflicts of schedules, we had a smaller than usual group at the Spinning Retreat this year.  In fact, only 14 ladies were able to attend, and we usually have around 30.  But that didn’t stop or slow down any of the fun, fellowship and fiber frolics.

One side of our spinning room – Left to Right – Patricia, Barb, Charlotte, Katie, Debbie and Kevin.

Left to Right – Debbie, Kathy, Carol, Sandy and Kelly.  My spot was between Carol and Sandy.  Missing from these pictures are Jan and Pat.

I let Carol use my wheel for most of the weekend, so I knitted on my sweater.  While Carol was test driving other wheels to see which one she might want to purchase, I spun three of the samples from the Fiber Binder Club that I had not spun before. 

Let’s talk about Carol for a few minutes.  Remember her?  She was my weaving student from last fall, and I had taught her to spin using a drop spindle, too.  While she was here at the retreat, I wanted her to have as much time on the wheel as possible.

Everyone who is attending the retreat for the first time gets a “newbie bag.”  Carol’s included some BLF, Targhee from Three Bags Full and a batt from Crosspatch Creations.  She decided she wanted to spin the BLF first.  We split the roving into 4 long pieces and here she is pre-drafting it for spinning.  It was a lovely color way.

It didn’t take her too long to spin up enough to start plying it.  I think she is the first person I have ever taught Navajo plying before plying with separate bobbins.  And she caught on very quickly, too.  Also, I showed Sandy and Kathy how to Navajo ply.

All done and winding it off onto a niddy-noddy.  Carol is so excited that she can’t help smiling.  She knew she had over twisted her singles (and I assured her that most new spinners do), and she felt she over plied her yarn, so she was pretty anxious to see what it was going to look like.

Not bad for a beginning spinner, eh?  When it came off the niddy-noddy pretty well balanced, everyone was jealous, which tickled Carol to pieces.

I think Carol ended up with four skeins of yarn by the end of the weekend.  And, she’s pretty sure a Lendrum is in her future.  At the end of Saturday evening, she wanted a break from spinning, so we taught her how to knit.  She is hooked!

On Sunday, Kevin showed Sandy and I how to spin flax.  Both Sandy and I were a bit intimitated by flax, but we shouldn’t have been.  It is much easier to spin than feared, and soon we both were getting smooth linen thread.

Can you tell Sandy was pretty happy with it?

Sandy spun a couple of other wools, too.  This one is from a Corriedale lamb named Ashley.  Judith MacKenzie judged this fleece and called it an “Exquisite Corriedale Fleece.”  Sandy quickly bought it and we sent it off for processing.  Doesn’t it look pretty?

Most years we have been at Lindenwood, there has been snow on the ground.  This year it was a little different.  We did get a little snow Friday night, but it melted pretty quickly the next morning, and this is what we saw out of the spinning room window.

Isn’t this place lovely?  I can hardly wait to see it with green leaves and grass and all the flowers in bloom.  Look to the left side of the picture and see if you can see the labrynth.

That is something else I cannot wait to visit this spring and summer.  If the wind had been kinder, I would have walked it this past weekend, but it wasn’t and I was a wimp.

And last, but not least, see my sheepy shoes?  I bought them especially for the retreat and they were so warm and comfortable.  They are now put away until next year. 

What fun we had and I can hardly wait until the next retreat.  They always go so quickly, and when Sandy and I were driving home, we commented that it felt like we had just driven up there.  I think we need to see if we can make the retreat longer.  Two partial days and one full day just isn’t enough.

Feb 28

A new side to Lindenwood is their MoonTree Studios.  Last year, when we were there, the facility was still under construction, but it is finished now.  And it is beautiful.  The three main areas it supports are Art, Ecology and Spirituality.  I could live here, and you will see why.

There are two main buildings – the Residence Lodge and the Art Studio.  Let’s start with the Residence Lodge.

This is what you see when you walk in – warm, cozy, comfortable and peaceful.  I didn’t catch the cat’s name, but he reminded me of a larger version of Dylan. 

The details in this building were amazing and many artists contributed their talents and time to create it.

The bedrooms are simple, but comfortable.  This is where the resident artist would be staying while teaching at the studio.

One view of the living area from above on the balcony.

And another view from above.  The minute I stepped into this building, I felt peace wash over me.  Yes, I could live there.

This is the outside of the art studio building.  Check out all of those windows!

The natural lighting in this building was amazing and made the whole place feel light and airy.

I have always loved exposed beams in a building.  These are peg-joined in the good, old-fashioned way.  The barn on the farm I grew up on was peg-built, and the construction of the studio reminded me of that.

And then there is the weaving studio!

The sigh of contentment I took when entering this room – well, the opportunity to teach here is going to be welcomed, indeed.  Look at all that natural lighting!   I believe the room faces south and east, and to not have a dark space in which to try to discern colors and patterns is a blessing.

Another view of the weaving studio.  This was not the only studio space in the studio, either.  There was a painting studio, a pottery studio and another space that I believe was for the enameling classes. 

And speaking of classes, they are beginning to bring in artists from all over the country to teach here.  The following is their schedule for the near future with more classes and workshops being added all of the time.

If you have any questions or would like more information about MoonTree Studios, their schedules and teaching opportunities, please contact Sister Nancy at snancyr@poorhandmaids.org.  She is a delightful person who will be more than happy to tell you more about what moonTree has to offer.

Feb 27

This past weekend was the annual Spinning Retreat at Lindenwood Retreat Center in Donaldson, Indiana.  This is something I look forward to every year from the minute I get home from one.  The days of these retreats pass so quickly and driving home yesterday, Sandy and I felt that we had just driven up there.

For the second year in a row, Sandy and I took things to sell.  Last year, we were pretty sure we had packed my PT Cruiser, Bettie, as full as she could be.  I think we topped it this year.

So, do you think we could have squeezed something else in?  As it was, Sandy had two bags riding at her feet all the way up and back.

And, here is what we took:

The sales for us this year were very good – much better than last year.  Our booth was just inside one of the main entrances to our room, and retreat goers from other groups wandered in to take a look at all of the tie-dyed items – and bought some of them!  As for the fiber, the bag of roving second from the left is completely gone and the one second from the right went home with about half gone.  That second from the right is Ukulele Top and Sandy was spinning it for a while before she switched to a different fiber to test it out.

And did Sandy and I buy anything?

You betcha!  This is a champion North Country Cheviot fleece that is earmarked for the Fiber Binder Club.  In fact, it’ll be on its way to Zeilingers for processing before I get home from work tonight.

I have so much more to share, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Feb 24

Sandy and I finally managed to go through the remaining fleeces we bought last year to choose the ones we wanted to send to Zeilinger’s for processing.  Ten fleeces made the cut – at least 4 for the Fiber Binder Club.  Two fleeces are in one bag – two mixed-breed lambs, one black and one white, that we decided to have blended together, so 9 bags of fleeces to be shipped out via UPS needed to be boxed up. These are big fleeces, too – one weighs 9 pounds, for example.

I could only find three boxes that were big enough to ship them out in, and I was determined to get all nine bags to fit into those three boxes.  That is where the new, competitive sport comes into play.

The first thing is to caputure the fleece and push it to the ground, doing your best to squish all of the air out of the bag.  Air may not weight much, but it sure takes up a lot of room.

Getting two squished bags of fleece into a box was easy.  Coaxing that third bag in and convising the others that three is not a crowd was a bit more difficult.  Sandy and I each had our own systems of doing this.  This was my way.

And this was Sandy’s way.  To be fair, she is sitting on the second bag and the third one still had to be wrestled into place.

Convincing the three bags of fleeces to cooperate enough to get the box taped closed was another issue.  That third one in no way wanted to stick around with the other two, and hard lines had to be taken in order to subdue them enough to settle down.  This box was particularly troublesome.

Even after starting the “taping-in” phase of the sport, the three bags inside didn’t want to be friendly toward one another.  It took many, many strips of tape to subdue them enough to get ready for shipping.

61 pounds of raw fleece are on their way to Zeilinger’s.  Whew!


Feb 23

Scott and I have a fascination with yurts, vardos and mini houses.  I would love to own something like this:

I can just see me spinning, knitting, writing, reading, and dreaming in this.  Or listening to the rain fall on the metal roof.  Or Scott and I having our business meetings in it.  Or taking a picnic lunch out to it and relaxing.  Or…

Feb 22

Lady of the Loom has a wonderful review of the Fiber Binder Club on her site!  Check it out.  Remember, if you want to join, you’ll start with Month 1 so you won’t miss out on any of the lovely fibers that are a part of the club membership.  Just email us at dyedinthewoolbiz@yahoo.com to get started.

Feb 21

A friend of Sandy’s and mine, Barb, asked if we could block her knitted afghan for her, so we got it blocked on Sunday.

Both Sandy and I were expecting something square in shape.  Imagine our surprise when we found this shape instead.  It is so lovely and was really fun to coax into its proper form.

So, Barb, what do you think of it?  Thank you for letting us block this for you.  Now the trick is getting us to give it back to you. 

Feb 20
Catching Up
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 02 20th, 2012| icon34 Comments »

After spending most of Saturday in front of a computer working on 2011 books, I needed a fiber break.  Luckily, Sandy and I had planned to get together yesterday afternoon to work on the March Fiber Binder Club packages.  The fleece for Month 15 of the Fiber Binder Club is from a sheep who was not coated, and even after washing the fleece, it still needed some cleaning because of all the vegetation and tips full of grass and hay bits.

There is no way Sandy and I would let this go out to our members as it is, so, we sat ourselves down to cleaning the fleece more.  Here is how we have discovered to be the easiest and fastest way to do this.  First, you will need a set of hand cards.

By using the cards to pull out any vegetation, opening the tips and making the fiber much easier to run through the drum carder, this is a much less onerous job than it needs to be.

After just one pass, you can see a huge difference.  A couple more swipes through the carder and the fiber is ready to make into batts.

And what a hugh difference this will make to those receiving this fleece next month.  Nice, clean and fluffy – just like we want it to be.

And look what is being left behind.  We were constantly having to clean our cards, but these are tools to make nice clean fiber and they can be cleaned up nice as new.   And added bonus is the removal of any second cuts.

And the work area needs cleaning, too.  You should have seen how dirty this area was when we stopped for the day.  We still have about 6-7 hours of cleaning to go, but that will have to wait until after the retreat this weekend.

It is very important to Sandy and I that we send out nice fiber for our Fiber Binder Club members to test.  We are constantly on the lookout for nice, coated fleeces to make this job easier, but not all breeds are coated, especially those who are raised mostly for meat, as Month 15’s sheep breed is.  But just because the breed s mostly a meat sheep, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a nice fiber to spin and use.

Feb 17

Next weekend is the annual spinning retreat at Lindenwood.  Two and a half days of spinning, knitting, eating, talking, selling tie-dye stuff and, occassionally, sleeping.  That’s what I am looking forward to.

Of course I have to get through next week’s deadlines first.  Sigh…

Feb 16

I took this “fashion era personality” quiz online and the results didn’t surprise me.

“Your Fashion Era is the … 1940s

Are you known for being level headed? Do your friends turn to you in a time of crisis? That means only one thing: The 1940s fit your fashion era personality.

Most of the 1940s were consumed by World War II; not only did many men go off to fight, but as a result, women began to move out of the household and into the workplace. This kept the country going economically, and many women saw this challenge as part of their patriotic duty. The look? Women’s suits with padded shoulders, knee length skirts, and fabric in dark greens and browns. Fashion was smart, utilitarian, and practical for an era dependent on rations.

The look may sound a little dated, but there are ways to embrace ’40s fashion. Blazers, white button-down shirts, coat jackets, and suits are looks that never go out of style — and would have felt right at home in the 1940s.”

I adore the looks of the 1940’s!!!!  If I had the time and money, I’d totally dress in the styles of that decade and ignore the odd looks I’d get – actually, I already ignore any odd looks I get, so that part would be easy.

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