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!


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