Have Ewe Any Wool?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Fabulous Spinning and Weaving Retreat!

Wow...every year, the January retreat gets better and better! The food gets better every year and the number of attendees expands - more people, more inspiration! What a fabulous weekend I had! I'm just sorry that it had to end.

The weather had been pretty nasty earlier in the week, so I was a bit disappointed that it was snowing again on Friday as I left for Pennsylvania. It wasn't too bad though - the temperature was warm enough that the roads stayed clear.











The camp was beautiful with all the newly fallen snow - it looked so pretty!






I headed up to my cabin, quickly made up my bed - trying to make the rustic cabin a bit more like home. Then, I hurried down to the lodge to start spinning.




There were a couple of weavers with looms this year - it was fascinating to watch them in action. I love the subtle patterns in Donna's brown fabric - it's just gorgeous!

Tina is checking out the project that the second weaver currently has on her loom. I'm not sure if it's a table runner or a scarf...but it's got lovely colors!











My friend, Cindy, had designed a tapestry that she began last year at the retreat. She wasn't happy with how the bear looked in the grass...or the overall effect of the grass, so she's re-started this piece twice over the past year! She's been quite busy with some commissioned work, so she hasn't had much time to work this one. Maybe it will be done by next year's retreat? I can't wait to see the finished project!


Debbie has been doing lots of lovely felting - primarily "critters". They're absolutely adorable! I haven't done much needle felting, but her creations really make me want to try.




I was absolutely fascinated by this gorgeous "rug in progress". It's absolutely stunning! I love all the detail and colors. I hope she brings the finished piece next year!













Here's another gorgeous rug - this one is completed - absolutely adorable!






One of the retreaters had a "super-skein" of yarn - it's actually multiple skeins that were bundled together for creating an artsy sweater. I just love all the luscious colors!



Check out this adorable sheep that was completed by one of the rug hookers during the retreat. It's very heavy and would be a very artistic door stop. I just love it! (Geez....this is making me want to start working on some of my rug hooking projects!)

My friend Laura alternated between her spinning wheel and her book Charka. I offered to "immortalize her in film", so I've made a short recording of her spinning with her Charka. Pretty awesome, eh?

video

Gregory had an awesome Norwegian spinning wheel. Her wheel is absolutely gorgeous. She has quite a collection of antique wheels that she uses all the time. She definitely does not understand why anyone would buy a new wheel when the antique ones are so lovely and much more economically priced!



Gregory had gifted her friend Arlene with a wheel as well. She was very excited about spinning and managed to complete her first official skein of yarn! I think she's pretty happy with the result - she's beaming from ear to ear!





Dixie had a gorgeous adult sized Baby Surprise Sweater. It was absolutely stunning. Normally, I'm not a big fan of garter stitch, however, seeing this sweater has definitely changed my mind. I need to add this to my list of "must do" sweaters.


I fell in love with two other sweaters this weekend as well. Beth's sweater is from the fall 1995 issue of Knitter's Magazine (number 40) - "Celtic Stonecarved Fair Isle"...I just love it! (Unfortunately, I don't seem to have a photo of that lovely sweater). I can't remember the pattern for the sweater Rhonda (left) is wearing...I think I wrote it down somewhere??? Anyhow, I love it...and definitely want to make that one as well!

There were two very intriguing bags at the retreat as well. I love Paige's spinning wheel tote - too cute! Another girl had a lovely felted Fibonacci bag with an adorable pin - I definitely need to make one of these bags! I'll have to think of a suitable embellishment...that seems to really set the bag off.











Faye taught me how to tat! How cool is that? I now know how to do yet another needle art. While she was teaching me, a few others strolled by and wanted to learn how to tat too. In this photo, you can see Faye "in action" as she is teaching another "retreater" how to tat.


Tatting wasn't nearly as difficult as I'd anticipated. I learned how to load my shuttle, make a ring, make a chain, make a picot, share a picot, and how to read a pattern. My very first ring is on the left. My other beginner projects are on the right. I have so much more to learn, but this gives me a good start!

In addition to the tatting, I finished spinning the singles of my Merino Silk. Now, all that's left is to ply it. I love the sheen that the silk gives the yarn - it's going to be luscious! I only had 4 oz. of this fiber, but I'm sure I'll think of a worthy project for it...fingerless gloves and a matching ear warmer perhaps?

Just before the retreat, I'd been watching the TV show, "Knit and Crochet Now". They had an interesting little scarf. It's knit in bulky yarn and then interest is added every 6 inches or so with braided I-cord. I brought the pattern and some yarn with me on the retreat...just in case I needed a break from spinning. I started this scarf Saturday evening and finished it up Sunday morning. It really felt good to have completed a project...and I made it from stash no less!

As an added bonus this year, we were able to sign up for massages. I scheduled mine for mid-afternoon on Saturday figuring I could definitely use it after spinning and knitting all day. It was fabulous! I felt like I was walking on air afterward - my back felt absolutely wonderful!

A couple of us even brought our "mascots". Janet had her goat as well as a very cute lambie - the Loopy Ewe Lamb. He's so cute! I have my little lambie with the magnetic feet that my friend Paula had given me a couple of years ago. Lambie "lives" in my sock project bag, so she's nearly always with me.

As you can see in the photos below, the lodge was just brimming with tons of spinners, knitters, weavers, rug hookers, crocheters.....you name the fiber art, they were there! The fireplace and the wood stove provided added warmth while we all shared our joy of the fiber arts. I had a fabulous time and made many new friends as well as reconnected with old friends. Tina does a fabulous job of organizing this event - I can't wait until next year's retreat!




























Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making the Best of a Wintry Day...

.
The forecast for yesterday was nasty...sleet and snow in the morning, just in time for the morning rush hour, and then heavy snow during the evening rush. I decided to make the best of an ugly forecast. By 3:30 PM, the "thunder sleet" had given way to "thunder snow" that was coming down at just over 2 inches per hour!

After dark, the snow with the ambient light and muted moonlight was bright enough for a couple of photos. (Left - front yard view; Right - back yard view)











I had made a big pot of Pasta e Fagioli soup on Tuesday, and decided to kick it up a notch and make it a main course. The flavors melded overnight and the pasta broke down a bit further thickening the soup. I added some hot Italian sausage to it to make it a "meal soup". Mmmmm! There's nothing better than a nice hearty bowl of pasta and bean soup on a snowy winter's night. DH loved it...especially after the 4 hr. commute home!

Some sort of bread was needed to accompany the soup and I wasn't about to head out to join the mobs at the grocery store that were inevitable early in the day! I found a great whole wheat French bread recipe on line and set about making the bread. I've only made bread a few times in my life without using a bread maker. This was a new adventure for me as I've NEVER made French bread of any sort!



The dough rose nicely - I was quite pleased! I then stretched it into an oblong shape, scored the top, and brushed it with egg. I was thrilled with the resulting bread! It was a wonderfully dense and hearty bread - perfect for the soup.










On the knitting front, I finished my "Panda Silk" socks! Wahoo! Another finished object for me. That makes two completed knitting projects for the month of January and one completed spinning project. (In addition to my two small "secret" projects.) I think I'm on a roll - I just hope I can keep the momentum up! I also managed to make a set of stitch markers...perfect for Valentine's Day.











The views outside this morning were beautiful! Unfortunately, the snow is so heavy, that many of the shrubs that had survived "Snowmaggedon" last year were bent over or broken now. Spring cleanup will once again result in gathering large piles of broken shrubs and twigs.