The American Sewing Guild

Last night, I spoke to the Greenwood chapter of the American Sewing Guild.  Since they already know what to do with fabric, my talk and demonstration was about how fabric was made.  And there was a great turn-out, too.  I’m guessing that there were at least 20 ladies there and the room was pretty full.

I decided to cover three areas of fabric construction, the raw fiber and spinning into yarn, weaving it into cloth and making the cloth more colorful with dyeing either the fiber, the yarn or the cloth.  I showed them two different types of wool, a mixed breed wool that would be good for sweaters, mittens and other outerwear, and a merino so soft that baby clothes could be made from it.  I also talked about the fire resistant qualities of wool and it’s water wicking.  If it sounds like I am a big fan of wool, you’d be right.

I had several skeins of yarn, both two and three ply (the three plies showing the differences between Navajo plying and using three bobbins and plying the separate yarns together), I had two full bobbins of spun singles, one of merino and one of alpaca, and I had several items that I had knitted from my handspun, including a pair of mittens and a skein of the nearly newby yarn I had spun to make them.  I explained that one of the main advantages of spinning your own yarn was the wide variety of fibers available and that you can choose the best, not what the commercial yarn makers can make the most money from.  I passed around my Fiber Binder Club binder to show them different wools and fiber types as well as my spun, knitted and woven samples.

With the weaving, I had several pieces of cloth, a vest I had made from cloth I had woven, dishtowels, and other items.  Some of the pieces of fabric I had dyed the yarns for and I showed them that by weaving your own fabric, you could chose the pattern, the colors and can mix and match to your heart content.  There was huck toweling, a piece of fabric that I had painted the warp for and many others.  Also, I showed some of the items that had been made from the handwoven fabric, including the wonderful reversible purse that Kathie made from my handwoven fabric a few years ago.

Then, I spoke about the colors.  A couple of the handwoven items made from cotton had been dyed using fiber reactive dyes, but when I got to the wool, I got to talk about natural dyes.  I showed them the two vests I had knitted from naturally dyed Shetland as well as the madder gradation shawl and my ultimate favorite of the fabric that I spun the yarn for, naturally dyed the singles before plying, then wove the fabric.  I really am hoping that I can find the time to make that fabric into the vest I want to wear.

Once the talk was over and all of their questions had been answered, I invited the ladies to come up and give the spinning wheel and drop spindle a try.  One lady sat at the wheel and I showed her drafting and controlling the amount of fiber going into the twist while I treadled it with my hands.  Another lady was interested in the drop spindle, and before you know it, she was getting the hang of how yarn is made.  I talked about Dye Day and I do hope lots of them show up on Monday.  I do know that all my business cards disappeared so that is a good sign.

It was lots of fun and I look forward to the next opportunity to show people how to make fabric – from scratch.


One Response

  1. Cindy in FL Says:

    “Yup, wiping out fiber ignorance with the flick of her hand!”
    You are a great teacher!

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