Have Ewe Any Wool?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Neither Earthquakes Nor Hurricanes Could Keep Me From The Spinning and Weaving Retreat!

Wow! What a week! First an earthquake (My FIRST! And on the East Coast no less!) quickly followed by Hurricane Irene. BUT...neither event was enough to keep me from running off to Pennsylvania to await the arrival of the hurricane while spinning, knitting and weaving with the Lancaster Spinners and Weavers.

"Refreshing Mountain Camp" was beautiful! It's up in the mountains...and had the weather been more clear, you could see the view a bit better. Our lodge was up on a steep hill - well above the pool and overlooking the dining hall.

It was perfect!!! The accomodations were very upscale for "camp". And our rooms were air conditioned - thankfully! We even went for a "pre-hurricane" swim...just to cool off a bit - it was so hot and humid, even up in the mountains! If there weather had been nicer, we would definitely have taken advantage of the many outdoor seating areas...full of Adirondack chairs!

Beth and I were the first ones there. We filled up the room with our stuff and prepared for a weekend of fiber fun. The meeting room at the lodge looked pretty empty and lonely looking when we arrived, but it was quickly filling up.

Several of the attendees are also vendors and/or raise fiber animals, so there was a nice variety of goodies to peruse - hand crafted purses/project bags, buttons, lots of yarn, and of course, all kinds of fiber: angora bunny, mohair, alpaca, and merino. Needless to say, I lost a few $$ from my wallet this weekend!

I cast off my "Holden Shawl" just before the weekend, and brought it with to get tips/ideas on how and where to attach the beads. I had tried a few techniques, but I wasn't pleased with any of them. Audrey had a fabulous suggestion - block it and then add the beads at the resultant points. Thank you Audrey!!!

I bought some gorgeous roving from Beth on Friday - a gorgeous teal blue with black - Australian Finn in the "Native Turquoise" colorway. I spun it up immediately! I just love how this looks. Unfortunately, there was only 1.7 oz. of this fabulous fiber, so I'll have to use the yarn as an accent on something else. I have approximately 110 yards of finished yarn. There's a wee bit of Angelina that had been blended into the wool. Just a bit...too much would make it very unpleasant to touch because of the plastic feel of the Angelina. However, in small amounts, it adds interest and doesn't impact the softness of the yarn at all!

The rest of the weekend, I spun the BFL/Silk that I'd purchased from "Miss Babs" at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. The colorway is one of my favorites, "Iris". (I always seem to gravitate toward a combination of purple and green.) I'm spinning this fairly fine - nothing like the "heavy worsted" I'm going for with the Merino for the spinning challenge.

Although it rained quite a bit, it always seemed to stop just in time for the meals! We didn't have far to go, but it was nice not having to deal with downpours as we trekked down the hill to the dining hall. Though it was gloomy outside on Saturday morning, you wouldn't know it from the looks on these happy faces! (The food was wonderful!)

Check out the brand new spinner on the right! She's a natural! She purchased a spindle from Kim and promptly learned how to drop spindle spin. Within 5 minutes, it seemed liked she'd been spinning for years!

Judy started feeling cold on Saturday evening and snuggled up in her "spinner's shawl" - the perfect use of roving! Why not put it to use while it's waiting to be spun?

The weekend's biggest accomplishment belongs to Audrey. She prepped, warped, and started weaving on the loom she's had languishing in the attic and garage for years. She finally bit the bullet and decided it was now or never! I've put together a photo display of the progress....from prepping the warp, warping, and finally, weaving!!!

Donna mentored and assisted Audrey throughout the weekend. Warping the loom and prepping to weave is DEFINITELY a labor of love. And all the encouragement from her fellow fiber artists definitely made the tedious bits pass more quickly! Whew....it definitely was a full weekend project!

The warp threads were prepped on the warping board on Friday evening. Once the threads were on the board, they were tied together in bundles to ease with the transition to the loom. Donna provided lots of tips and warnings about what to avoid and why certain things are done the way they are. (It's very helpful to have a seasoned weaver like Donna in your court when you're warping your first loom!!!)

The warp has been "laid out" on the loom. Donna helped put the threads in separate little bundles using the raddle. The ties that were made on the warping board helped make this step and the next steps a bit easier. The warp then gets wound on.

Next, Audry began the process of taking each thread through a heddle. On the left, you can see the first "group" of approximately 10 threads that she's starting with. The remaining bundles of thread are draped over the bars out of the way.

The hard part of this task is verifying that the threads have been run through the heddles in the proper order as well as keeping track of where your are in the pattern. It's VERY tedious, but very important - if the threads get switched, the pattern will be impacted! If you double click on the photo on the left, you can see Audrey's "counting system" for each repeat of the pattern. Who said chocolate is JUST for eating! It can double as an abacus!

Once all the threads have been threaded through the heddles, she has to sley the reed. Once again, it's rather tedious, but she must be careful not to cross threads. One the right, you can see that all the threads are through the reed...almost ready to weave!

The final step was to tie the threads to the front end of the loom. Once that was done and tightened down, she was ready to go! Double click in the photo on the left for a closer view of the "tie on". On the right are Audrey's first few rows!!!!

Way to go Audrey!!! Congrats on starting your first official project - the "Log Cabin" towels.

Take a closer look the weaving pattern! Wow! I'm definitely impressed! Audrey's edges are wonderful! It's hard to believe that this is her FIRST project!!! On the left, if you double click, you can see a closeup of the "Log Cabin" pattern Audrey is using. The photo on the right shows how much she completed - Wahoo! Fabulous progress!

Watching Audrey prep and warp her loom made me want to get going on mine! But holy cow! What a lot of work it is! I know I'll love the weaving part...I just have to convince myself that the prep is just as fun and exciting!

What a wonderful weekend! All totally immersed in spinning, knitting, weaving, and especially laughing...in spite of Hurricane Irene! We didn't even lose power - except for a few brief moments. There were lots of leaves and branches littering the walkways...and even a beehive! The storm had dislodged a it from the side of the lodge. It was a bit water logged, but appears to be an active hive. When I turned it over, there were a few "worker bees" busily going about their day...oblivious of the storm. (Double click on the photos for a closer look).

Though the winds and rains didn't dampen our spirits, they sure left a mess on the roads. There were many downed trees, branches, and leaves. They littered the highways making them slick and hazardous. The debris combined with bursts of rain and wind made the ride home "interesting". The interstate was clear and in good condition, but the winds were extremely strong crossing the Susquehanna! I'm thankful that we missed the majority of the hurricane's wrath...and we all made it back home safe and sound!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


As promised in my previous post, here's a picture of the finished skein of pink
Merino. This is just the first of four 4 oz. skeins that I'm spinning for the Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Spinning Challenge. I still need to spin up the other three....AND decide on a technique and design for a bag - knitted, crocheted, or woven. Oh the decisions!!!!

I have made some significant progress on my rug hooking project as well. I'm so excited! This is my first REAL project in rug hooking. It looks a bit messy because I haven't trimmed up the ends. It's also a learning project, so I've found there are several things that I'll do differently the next time. Most of what I've learned centers on how/where to angle the strips as I add them to the work in progress to make it look the most pleasing to the eye. Another area I'm struggling with is how close together to put each strip - my sheep is pretty dense and thick. Next time, I'll allow a bit more space so it's not quite as tight.

My "Holden Shawl" is really coming along. I've started the lace borders, so it won't be much longer before this is finished! Once it's done and blocked, I'll need to add the beads. That will be a bit tricky as the edging is created through a picot bind off.

Today, I got to see Sarah and her gorgeous baby! Sarah is looks fabulous (as always), but for some reason, doesn't have much time left over for knitting - imagine that! She is working on an absolutely fascinating scarf/stole that I'm definitely adding to my list of "projects in waiting" - it's the "Summit" scarf from Knitty - Spring 2010. It's absolutely stunning!

Nannette had a gorgeous shawl that I'm definitely lusting over....it's in my colors! Isn't it awesome? It's the "Flower Bead Shawl." I snuggled in it and warned her that she just might not get it back! (I did eventually "relinquish" it back to her care. Sigh. It's made from Kauni yarn. I LOVE how the yarn morphs to through the various shades of purple and grey! (I have several skein of this same type of yarn...and I believe I even have some in this same colorway! Yikes! One more project added to my ever expanding "Project in Waiting" queue!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hooking and Spinning

Saturday was the annual Hook-In in Yellow Springs, WV. It was fabulous! It was my first year attending and I had a fabulous time! There were many of fabulous rugs and wall hangings to inspire me.

There were five different vendors providing lots of gorgeous wools and tools to meet any rug hooking needs! The hosts served a fabulous lunch and provided great morning snacks - I think we all gained about 10 pounds in one day! Everything I needed was in one place - wool, inspiration, and food I'm definitely adding this to my yearly excursions!

On the left are the creations made in answer to the ATHA "Go Red!" challenge. All of them were very creative and beautifully made. These creations definitely give new meaning to the phrase, "Seeing red". (Be sure to double click on the photo for a closer view - I love all the different interpretations of "Go Red!"

Many of the attendees displayed their recent finished objects. They were fantastic! Each one was an incredible work of art. Some projects were made in 3-D...others in very fine strips of wool. I was amazed at the beauty and level of detail in each of the projects! These are just a few examples...the level of detail is just astounding! (Be sure to double click on the photos for an "up close" look!)

This little guy is hopefully going to be one of our guild projects next year. Hopefully the artist will be available for a workshop! I think he's absolutely adorable!

My friend, Jerry, was at the Hook-in as well...vending her lovely hand-dyed wools. Her sister is a new rug hooker was there both to help Jerry as well as get in some hooking herself. This really makes me wish that I had an inspiring and talented older sister - especially one with such an eye for design and color!

In addition to vending and chatting, Jerry showed us a technique she just learned for making "flowers". I love learning new techniques! I made great headway on my sheep wall hanging. It's a Jerry original as well. I love her patterns as well as her wools. The animals in her patterns have a lot of personality and her wools are gorgeous. I'll post a picture of my progress soon!

On the spinning front, I had nearly finished plying the Targhee Friday evening...my goal had been to complete it BEFORE the Hook-In. I really wanted to have that sense of accomplishment that you get when you complete a project. Sigh. I did finally finish it on Saturday evening...just in time to start a new project when I joined the Centreville Spinners on Sunday.

I love the colors! I had decided NOT to Navajo ply the yarn, but instead let the colors fall where they may as I plied the yarn. These colors play well together, so the overall effect was lovely. In natural light, it's a bit more purple than it shows here. I'm thinking that this yarn will be perfect for a multi-directional scarf. Perhaps the one featured on the cover of "Spin-Off" a few months ago?

I finally started spinning the Merino for my Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers spinning challenge. I have four 4 oz. balls of roving - teal-green, blue, purple and pink. I finished the pink ball this evening (sorry...no picture yet). Four ounces down, twelve to go! Once I get it all spun, the real challenge begins - what to make with the four different colors. I have until October, so hopefully, I'll find the perfect project!