Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's not all about wheels

Sometimes it's about ... spindles! For various and sundry reasons, I've been enjoying a renewed interest in drop spindles. I blame it on Abby Franquemont. She is a Spindle Enabler. Spindles are great tools, both beautiful and (if done right) functional. Many spinners get started on a spindle before moving on to wheel spinning, and some of them never go back to spindles. That's kind of a shame, because spindles really have some advantages over wheels.
  1. The are more portable.
  2. They are in more people's price range.
  3. They make great taunts for cats.
I would also add to that list that spindle spinning improves my ability to draft evenly, but I don't know that everyone experiences that particular benefit of spindle spinning.

Earlier this week I was in a bit of a funk and decided I needed some shopping therapy, and so I treated myself to a couple of cadillac-quality spindles from Goldings. They arrived today, and now I have a pretty brass chain in my fiber room with a Kundert, two True Creations, and two Goldings.


It's a nice way to display them and will be just a bit more difficult for my big cat to chew on them. Here are the Goldings in more detail:


That's a medium weight (about 1.6 oz) top whorl spindle. All but one of my spindles are top whorl spindles, tho' on my list of Things To Do is to learn how to use bottom whorls and supported spindles.

Here's the lighter weight Golding Lignum Vitae:

I like the wood on this one - it's a rare, dense wood and a most interesting olive brown.

And last but not least, my two True Creation spindles - a 1 oz. and a .6 oz.


When I'm spinning the more exotic fibers like cashmere or guanaco, I prefer to do it on a drop spindle. I appreciate having a greater focus on spinning when I'm working with something rare, and drop spindles, for me, require more focus. It works out well.

Tomorrow I'm going to take a few spindles with me to a holiday dinner party. Maybe there will be someone there I can help aspinnerate! :-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mistakes are for Learning

I think I mentioned in the last blog post that I was having some Technical Difficulties with the scarf I'm attempting. I'm not too fretful about that, since I am learning so much about What Not To Do in weaving, and know that all future items will be that much better. Right? Work with me on this one.

So, I shall share what I've learned so far so that any of you proto-weavers out there can learn from my mistakes.
  1. Have Good Lighting
  2. Check the warp for mistakes by treadling against a lightly tied warp BEFORE you tie that last knot
  3. Don't use a squishy thing as your warp separator on the back beam
A bit more on the first, Have Good Lighting. Now, I'm sure that getting a warp tied on will get easier in time, but for those first dozen or so, you're going to stretch and strain and wonder "wait, which reed slot was I just in?" So, make sure you have good lighting. As was pointed out to me, good lighting does NOT mean a spotlight on your work space. A spotlight succeeds in creating great contrast of light and shadow, and if you're working with a black warp (for instance) then that is hugely problematic. What you're looking for is good ambient light, preferably "up lighting" as a friend of mine, mrspie, described, as well as some task lighting. The good ambient light helps knock back those shadows that just a straight task light will make difficult. And about that light bulb... While incandescents are going out of popularity due to energy concerns, florescents are only just starting to catch up on the light quality that incandescents have for a room. I hate the flicker of florescent lights, but it's not as bad as it used to be. So, all I can say here is do your best to get a more full-spectrum florescent, and good luck!

OK, now on to the second item, testing for errors. I tied on the warp, front to back, and made all the knots nice and tight, and then started weaving in the front band. I quickly found out this shiny pretty warp was not quite right. Dang it! I ended up having to undo both the first quarter and the last quarter to fix threading errors. Undoing those knots was a pain, and of course then I had to undo the rest of the knots once things were fixed because the tension had become very uneven. So, NEXT time I'm going to be doing a test before all those little knots are tightened down. You have been warned.

And third, about that squooshy thing. Here's what I'm talking about:


That squooshy thing is the thin foam padding one uses under futon cushions to theoretically keep the cushion from sliding. I can safely say that it is as effective as a warp separator as it is an anti-cushion slider, which is, not at all. If you're not a weaver, you may be asking "well, um, why would you want to separate your warp anyway?" Some weavers don't, and it works fine for them. In my self-taughtness, the books I've read suggest that having something between the layers of warp that get wrapped on that back been is a Good Thing (tm) because otherwise the tension gets a bit wonky as some threads sort of sink in to the previous layers. Why did I use a squooshy thing if the purpose was to have an even tension? I was having a stupid moment. I am paying for it now. Let my purpose in life be as a warning to others.

Since we're on the topic of errors, let me show you what a gradual change in tension does to the fabric. You saw yesterday's picture of the first part of the scarf. Things seemed pretty even, no? Well, over time, it starts to look like this:

See that weird dip above the top block? And if you look closely, you see the whole thing is starting to get a bit wavey. Some of this will, literally, come out in the wash when the fabric is fulled. But some of it won't, and the scarf will be just that wee bit defective along those lines. C'est la vie! Like I said, I'm not too worried about it because I am certain the next scarf will be better based on what I've learned with this one.

Tune in in a day or two when I show pictures of my latest spinning!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

When it all comes together

When things all come together, some folks think that means it all just works, just happens, just is lovely. I think when things all come together, it looks kinda like this:


Kind of a big untidy mess of all the things that came together to have stuff done unto them in the last month! It's been fabulous, though, don't get me wrong! What you see there is a pretty big dent in my Master Spinner's homework as well as some work on my most complicated weaving project to date. There is also a hint of the 415 2-ply merino I finished last weekend. Lots of good stuff is coming together on that table! I think, however, I need a bigger table for all the good stuff.

A bigger table, however, is not in the cards. Why? Because I have FINALLY gotten some of my bookcases out of storage! (Another "coming together" thing that's happened in the last month.) I had 4 bookcases custom made for my first home, and I brought the with me to California. Unfortunately, I haven't really been in a place until now where I could bring them - and some of my books - out of storage. Yesterday I got 3 of the 4 bookcases in to the house we're renting, and one of them is in the craft room.


Isn't it pretty? They are all oak with black cherry stain. They make me happy. I need to do some earthquake stabilizing on them before I really load the up with books - that's on the list for this weekend.

But wait, there's more! I mentioned having finished a big ol' batch of merino, which I should have taken a photo of before I sat down at the computer but I didn't - I'll get you all one later - but going through that much spinning in the very short period of time I did it meant I needed a spinning break. Well, my hands needed a spinning break. I was ready to keep on going, myself, but my hands had other ideas and I did have this thing I'd been wanting to try on the loom, so...


That's a block-twill pattern from the September/October 2009 Handwoven magazine. It requires all 8 harnesses on my loom and is definitely the most complicated weaving structure I've done so far! Granted, not that I've done lots and lots - ok, like 2 samplers, a shawl, and a few scarves - but still, it has been a big deal for me. I have learned a great deal about threading errors and how to check for them before you start weaving (missed one, tho', which bugs me), and I'll be learning a bit with regards to color and how to make a vibrant, multi-color scarf that does not clash with itself.

In case you're curious about how to check for threading errors, what I figured out was to get the loom tied up, threaded, and so on, and tie the first half of a surgeon's knot to get some tension in the warp. Then start treadling like you were about to weave and look for skipped heddles, odd tension points, and so on. I found at least 4 errors I was able to go back and correct before I actually started weaving. It meant a fair amount of re-threading through the heddles and reed, but better before weaving than after!

Last but not least in things coming together, my kid brother got married in Illinois earlier this month. He has been dating his now-bride for years and years, and I have every hope this is going to be a marriage that works out well for all concerned. I had mentioned to some folks on Ravelry that I was heading up to Illinois, and it turns out that The Fold, a fine spinning and yarn shop, was not but 30 minutes away from the hotel for the wedding! So of course I had to go see it, and I came away with a pile of goodies:


We've got some lovely pencil roving that I can't wait to treat myself to after I'm done the Level 1 homework for the Master Spinners program. There is a Kundert supported spindle which I'm bound and determined to learn how to use (that's going to be a requirement for Level 2 or 3, I forget which), a gorgeous little True Creations drop spindle (actually I got two), and 1 oz. of rare guanaco fiber. The proprietress, Toni, had some vicuna as well, which is even more rare, but it also costs $250/ounce! That's a very reasonable price for that fiber, in case you're wondering, but it still was a bit rich for my blood. But one day... I'll probably spin up the guanaco as a thin single and weave it in to a shawl as an accent to some baby llama I have ready to spin. That's going to be a very soft, awesome shawl!

Today starts the first day of Winter Closure at my place of employment, so I'm looking forward to 2 weeks of focus on fiber-y goodness. w00t!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What's a Wool Sampler Book?

This weekend has been a fun weekend of scouring different wools and spinning them up in various ways. I'm making great progress on my wool sampler book, and of course that needs to be documented for posterity in my blog. First, the workspace I need to explore my wools:


The one in progress on the table is an absolutely lovely batch of California Variegated Mutant (CVM). So soft, just long enough to comb, and much of the combing leftovers will end up on the handcards.


I brought the start of my sampler book to the recent Blacksheep Handweaver's Guild meeting, and it was a raging success. That is, I had the gumption to show it to a single person, and she liked it, and so I was happy. Then the program started and went waaaay past my bedtime, and, well, at least one person got to see it! (Thanks for the kind words, Ruth!)

So, perhaps you're wondering, what does a wool sampler book look like, anyway? For me, it is a three-ring binder with a bunch of photo-holder sheets and a bunch of wool in it. A completed sample includes an unwashed lock, a worsted-spun 10 yard, 2-ply skein, a woolen spun 10 yard, 2-ply skein, and some of the wool turned in to a swatch. I chose to knit the swatch, but it could be woven or crocheted if either of those is your fancy.


The point of the exercise, of course, is to determine for myself how the different types of wool look and feel under different preparations and techniques. Here's another example, still a work-in-progress:


That's black Border Leicester, with a raw lock, worsted, and woolen skeins (top right to bottom left). I've still got to set the twist on the yarns and do some thwacking on the woolen one, but it's a great example of how different yarn can be as a result of the preparation and spinning technique. I'll never get bored with this.

All of this started for the Master Spinners program, but I couldn't limit myself to just 10 types, which is all they require. I'm going to see about getting small bits of commercially prepped roving and/or top for some of the wools, just to compare to how well I'm processing my fibers for different techniques.

There is more, of course. I've got samples of S spun and Z spun singles, and next weekend I'll work on the fiber samples from all major areas of a single fleece to show how even on a single sheep, the fiber is different depending on where you get it (britches versus back versus shoulder and so on). I know it's different - I've read about it plenty of times. But by working it for myself, I'll have a better understanding of HOW different, which is pretty darn cool.

Of course, I'll do that after the massive feast planned on Thursday. I think I'll take a day off from the Master Spinners homework that day and just bring my wheel and some merino to my friends' house, and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Intervention Needed

OK, I think there may be such a state as "too much of a good thing." I need 10 - count 'em, 10, like number of fingers, 10 - different types of sheep breeds' wool for my wool book. I'm up to, ummmm, more than that. The problem is it's just so darn interesting! People are coming out of the woodwork (or, well, out of Ravelry) enticing me with breeds I've read about but never seen! At this point, I've got the following in house or on order (small batches):

  1. Tunis
  2. Romney
  3. Cheviot
  4. Rambouillet
  5. Churro
  6. Border Leicester
  7. Leicester Longwool
  8. Montadale
  9. Cormo
  10. Cotswold
  11. Coopworth
  12. Icelandic
  13. Shetland
  14. Targhee
  15. Corriedale
  16. Finn
  17. CVM
  18. Dorset
  19. Gotland
  20. Polwarth
  21. Castlemilk Moorit
  22. Soay
  23. Portland
  24. Ouessant
  25. Masham
  26. Boreray
  27. Wensleydale
  28. North Ronaldsay (maybe - I'm hoping!)

I hope there aren't many more interesting breeds out there that folks have access to, and if there are, for heavens sakes don't tell me! Well, not for a few months yet. I need to get through that list of fascinating, awesome wools.

So, if you are a spinner, what's been your favorite breed to spin? I think mine so far has to be the Leicester Longwool, followed closely by the Cotswold. I guess I'm a longwool kinda girl. :-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

The weekend's progress - Master Spinners Level 1

So much progress was made this weekend on my first level of the Master Spinners certification! I am all sorts of tickled by it. There was much writing, spinning, cleaning, and organizing going on. There was even some photography and photoshop work to label my pictures! Here's to hoping I got the parts correct - this may go in to my book as part of my homework.

This is a Cormo hogget fleece from Sue Reusser, a fantastic shepherd who has been wonderfully supportive of my spinning addiction.


The labels are more clear in the full-sized version of the photo.

I also have an icelandic fleece on the way which may be examined and labeled in a similar way. We will see - I'll decide between the two for my workbook.

Most of my remaining effort at this point is documenting more types of sheep. While the requirement is 10 breeds, I will be doing more for my own edification. In talking to different folks around the country at fleece samples, how could I avoid going after a few more types of wool I've never experienced??? Fleeces from the following types of sheep:
Laurie at Frene Creek Farm, you've been awesome! I will be going after some of those others you mentioned, like wensleydale and hampshire and BFL. My cat is not the only one who can drool over (and on, and around) fiber! And Lisa from Cranberry Moon Farm, I've already really enjoyed working with the Leicester Longwool, Romney, and Cotwsold I got from you last week. Working with top-of-the-line samples from these breeds makes my work so much more fun and interesting.

Tune in next time I have camera + time + proper lighting (without having to pull out the full flash and whatnot) for my next installment of crazy master spinner wannabe!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Wool Book

One of the assignments in the Master Spinner's program is the creation of a wool book covering 10 different breeds, from raw to spun in various ways. I am excited 'cause I have my wool picked out, some from my stash, some from local shepherds in California, and a few a bit more far reaching. The list for my book is:

Border Leicester
Leicester Longwool
Lincoln
Dorset
Cormo
Romney
Cotswold
Icelandic
Shetland
Babydoll Southdown

I may add a few more if the opportunity presents itself. I'm making progress!

Last night I also made progress on spinning up some of the fine and fabulous merino roving I got back from Morro Fleece Works. I purchased a couple of moorit merino fleeces from Janet Hepler, all merino, some from the Retzlaff Winery spin day and the other from Monterey, and they've come home. Did you know one fleece can easily net you 4-5 13 oz. bags of roving? I have a LOT of spinning to do, especially if I'm going to make room for all those fleece samples coming in! Did I mention I just had to buy another full raw fleece so I can properly identify the parts (shoulder, neck, belly, sides, and so on) so I can spin a bit from each? It's tough, tough to have to have more wool in the house. What a rough life. ;-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

A new conference

Last year was my first year at Stitches West, and it was intense. Since then, I've discovered that while I am glad I know how to knit, it's really not my thing. Fortunately, there seems to be another conference coming up in April 2010 that's right up my alley: the Conference of Northern California Handweavers. This is a conference that focuses on weaving and spinning, two activities I enjoy much more than knitting.

Sunday was day one of early bird registration, and I was there with my laptop just waiting for my chance to get in to my first choice classes. I even enabled a friend who was over visiting to get registered since she had forgotten to do it before she left her house!

I'm probably going overboard with my classes, but really, when don't I go overboard with my fiber arts??? Here's my list:

Friday:
Fiber: The Inspiration for Planning a Warp
Heather Winslow
CC156 6 hour class

Saturday:
Custom Fit and Fabulous
Daryl Lancaster
CC325 6 hour class

Sunday:
Weaving TNT: Dynamite Tips ’n Tricks
Robyn Spady
C542 3 hour class

That gives me a class on weaving warps, clothing design, and weaving repair and efficiencies. I thought about taking some more classes with Judith Mackenzie McCuin, but since I'll have her for a week in March, I figured I would branch out a bit and discover additional teachers.

Leave a comment as to whether you're going to CNCH and what classes you'll be taking!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Now Introducing the New and Improved Craft Room!

You saw the Before. It wasn't pretty. It certainly wasn't conducive to crafting and enjoyment. In fact, I would go so far as to say it was only conducive to bodily injury as I tripped over things! But a shopping spree involving Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Target, I now have a craft room I'm proud of.






Blake definitely approved.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Before...

OK, so moving wasn't so bad, right? It must be considered an opportunity to review my craftroom set up! I mean, really, it must be, 'cause how it is now simply won't do. This weekend I am committed to getting that room properly sorted out.

I don't feel too terribly bad that it's such an unorganized disaster. I mean, I only just moved in! But still, just 'cause I have an excuse now doesn't mean I can stand it the way it is much longer.

Here's what I am working with:

That's the view from the door.

Next, we have the room from the corner where that lovely leopard print cat bed is located:

And last but not least, a view of the third corner diagonally across the room from the door:

Now, just because I'm trying to fit three spinning wheels, a bench, a stool, a Baby Wolf 8-shaft loom, a small kitchen table with a swift, a bobbin winder, a printer, and a carder, a couple of lamps, books, a vacuum cleaner, some cat toys and perhaps just a wee bit of fiber doesn't mean that organization isn't possible for the sheer quantity of stuff in a 12x12 room. It just means it's going to be ... tricky.

Wish me luck! I'm off to Home Despot this weekend for some Organization Shopping!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

She's Fallen Off the Planet!!!

Well, no, not quite, but I'm sure folks who were reading this blog suspect that must have been what happened! I won't go in to truly gory details, much as I love gory details, but the last two months went something like this:
  • Get back from The Golden Gate Fiber Institute to find out I need to move
  • Find a place and start packing
  • Have work go completely mad
  • Go on a pre-paid vacation with Mother
  • Come back and move the next day
  • Fly out just a few days later for a conference
  • Come back and promptly collapse with The Flu
  • Get well just in time to go back on another business trip
And that leads us to now. Whew! I'm moved, but not quite unpacked and organized, which means my photo set up hasn't happened yet. I hate blogging without pictures! Now that things are about to calm down (she says hopefully) however, I decided on my next challenge, which is starting the Master Spinner's program from Olds College. Level 1 and 2 will be distance learning, and levels go all the way up to 6. This will take me a few years, but I suspect it will satisfy my competitive urges. I like to be measured and graded, which is in one way kind of sad, but oh well. That's just me. Maybe, by the time I finish the Master Spinner's program, I'll be ready to start on Master Weaver's!!!

This weekend I'll dig out the camera and see about setting up some pictures to show my new studio, and get back in the proper blogging of things.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How cool is this?

Of of the things I do to help feed my fiber addiction is participate in a fiber farm CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) effort. I've got a share with a Fiber Farm, which nets me fiber, awesome blog posts, and a feeling of community around the support of the farm. And now I get to help in a new way - I donated some of my handspun to a Mighty Big Giveaway. I am proud to have done it, and petrified it won't make the winner of that handspun happy as can be. Is it perfect enough? Will they appreciate its handmade-ness? We'll see!

Monday, September 7, 2009

So much to do, so little time

It was pointed out to me the other day that I hadn't blogged in entirely too long. Between Real Life and Fiber Fun, my world has been a busy busy place! Since this is a blog about fiber adventures, let's dive in to that part of my story. Real life is icky anyway.


When last we left our humble explorer, I had wrapped up writing about the Golden Gate Fiber Institute and prepared to head on down to Monterey Wool Auction. Earlier this summer I attended the judging for the fleeces in this auction and learned all sorts of things about wool. I was soooo glad I went to that judging, 'cause when I and my fellow adventurers, sockpr0n and mrspie, saw the tables of fleeces I hardly knew what to do with myself. Fortunately, I had my list of the fleeces I knew I wanted, I had my budget, and soon I had my little number in hand to start bidding.


Fleeces sold at auctions like this generally go for a premium. You are paying for the overhead fees the auction itself adds to the fleece as well as the assurance that you are getting a fleece of at least a certain standard - any weak fleeces are sent back during the judging phase and not allowed up for sale. And this year, you're also paying for a hard year for shepherds. The price of hay has gone up, the price of transportation has gone up, and, well, that means the price of everything has gone up!

I had picked out a few fleeces from Sue Reuser, a mostly-Cormo shepherd, and Janet Heppler, a mostly-merino shepherd, as my prime targets, and I was allowed to get three. By the time the day was done, I had exactly what I wanted - a lovely Cormo fleece I'm sharing with mrspie, and two merino fleeces. One merino fleece in particular I was absolutely stunned I won the bidding on. It is the most fabulous chocolate colored fleece I've ever seen and it's MINE ALL MINE! I don't know what folks were thinking not going after that beautiful thing.


I brought some of the fleece home with me to love and pet and spin, but most went to Morro Fleece Works for processing. I should get it back late this fall.

And that was the first part of the list of things keeping me away from the computer the last few weeks! In a day or two I'll blog about the indigo experiment that is the second part, and later the sweater - my very first, finished today - that was the third. I think I am a real knitter now, for I have finished a sweater. w00t!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Now we get to the final post regarding my experiences at the Golden Gate Fiber Institute's Summer Intensive 2009. I learned so darn much!

I took two classes - Natural Dyeing with Darlene Hayes, and a spinning/weaving class with Judith Mackenzie McCuin. My photos focused on the first class - the color just astounded me - so that's going to be the primary thing I talk about in this post. Not to say learning to weave with my own handspun wasn't great - it was! But that resulted in a really cute silk noil scarf for one of my sisters, and she can't see it til the holidays. So, no photos! It's a surprise! Suffice to say, weaving with your own handspun is fun and not as scary as I thought it might be. Can't stand Cricket Looms, though, the little loom we used for class. Not after weaving on a proper Baby Wolf! But that's another story.

So, on to the dyeing class: I had taken a dyeing class just a month before the week at Point Bonita, and thought I knew about what I'd see. Nope. The colors I'd seen to date from natural dyes were subtle, subdued, and while quite lovely, not what I'd have called super eye catching. The colors we ended up with in this week of class, tho', wow! Fantabulous!

We started with some very simple dyes and techniques, and throughout we mostly used the raw materials for dyes - no extracts for us. Things like onion skins...

Black walnut hulls...

And of course, bugs...
Specifically, cochineal bugs. You're not going to find a better red anywhere than those little bugs. For some of those basic colors and dyes, we then experimented with afterbaths - pots of ammonia or iron to dunk the yarn in as it comes out of its dye bath - to see what colors things would turn. The cochineal in particular went a bright berry color after a dip in ammonia, and an awesome wine red with the iron. Pretty nifty stuff!


We didn't stick to just "tried and true" natural dyes. For fun, we got an experimental dyepot going with mistletoe.
That last one ended up kind of drab, but when dipped in an indigo bath a few days later I think it turned in to one of my favorite colors for the week. Anyone have some mistletoe they might send my way??? :-)

After the dye pots, we went in to trying some contact dyeing. The premise there is that you take some mordanted yarn (or silk hankies, or scarves, really, whatever you like), you sprinkle your dyestuff all over it, you wrap it up in plastic wrap, and let it sit for a few days. If you have some sunlight to warm things up, that helps. I did two skeins of yarn, one that used osage orange, dill, and eucalyptus leaves, resulting in a varied yellow yarn I'm quite fond of, and another that used logwood, iron, cochineal, and black walnut which I didn't like at first but have since changed my mind.

We eventually go to Indigo day, and as one of the students said "Nothing can't be improved by a dip in indigo!" Indigo vats are a heck of a thing, I have to say. First, you put enough lye and oxygen removing stuff (thiox, aka Spectralite) as well as your indigo so that the resulting dyebath is a rather toxic looking green. Yuck. Then, with gloves on, you slowly dip your yarn or other material in to the vat. Count slowly to 30. Pull slowly out, avoiding bubbles or drips that would add oxygen back in the vat. As you pull it out and oxygen hits the fiber, voila! You watch it turn that famous blue right before your eyes. It's magic. It's what they should have shown in my chemistry class in high school to really get me engaged.

After a few dips in indigo, with 15-30 minute "rests" so the indigo can react with the oxygen before adding more, you've got a rather amazing array of colors, based on the under-color of the first dyeing.

Saturday, we were given free reign to dye what we wanted with the dye stuffs on hand. It was the BEST.

There was so much more, including lichen dyeing (one my absolute favorites), more about after-baths, pointers to additional readings, and so on. On Sunday, I collected all of it together and created a Wall O' Color. This is now my screen background because it makes me So Darn Happy!

And that's what I learned on my summer vacation! Morgaine released the dates for next year (second week of August) and I've already blocked off my calendar. I look forward to seeing all my new friends there and learning who knows what. It'll be worth it, whatever it is.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Now for the people

Whew, it took a few days longer to get back to the blog than I expected! So, a few days behind, let's dive straight in to the next thing that made the week of the Golden Gate Fiber Institute Summer Intensive just plain awesome. People!


Yes, people. Or perhaps I should say, crazy fiber people. Crazy, troublemaking, rabblerousing, I-want-to-be-them-when-I-grow-up fiber people. I didn't know hardly a soul going in to this event, and now I've got three new sisters that I can't wait to see again, some instructors I'd gladly quit my day job and apprentice myself to if I could, and a few women that make me think getting old won't be all that bad.

First and foremost, Room 9 people, Anne, Pam, and Kristine:In case you are fooled by her innocent demeanor, that is NOT a halo over Anne's head. She'd like you to think so, however. She's sneaky. I admire that in a person. And Pam is a midwife - how cool is that? If you meet her, make sure you see some of her lace knitting. I don't know how she does it, but it's beautiful stuff.

Kristine of Curious Creek fame (what, you haven't seen her stuff? GO! GO LOOK! She's a great dyer with awesome fibers and yarns) also looks sweet and innocent, doesn't she?
Well, room with her for a week, and you'll meet the real Kristine. You'll see. She's got the biggest heart of anyone I know, but I would never classify her as innocent. I say this with a huge grin on my face, too.

The instructors could not have been better. Darlene Hayes was my natural dyeing instructor, and Judith Mackenzie McCuin my spinning and weaving instructor. I learned about the phenomenal awesome power of color, and the magic of using my own handspun to weave with. I also learned that Darlene has quite a nice singing voice, as she serenaded Judith on our group photo day.

Jeane deCoster
taught clothing design, and it turns out she is a dyer as well. She came over to chat with Darlene and Sheila, one of my fellow students who could have been an instructor if she wanted to be. Ask her about a spinning wheel. Any spinning wheel. I swear, she has one of everything at home, plus all sorts of fiber animals, the ability to design and knit a sock from scratch in 3 days or less, and she can dye, too. Cool.

And speaking of classmates, here's a candid from indigo dyeing day.
This event simply wouldn't happen without the love and energy of Morgaine Wilder of Carolina Homespun. She is doing so much to promote the fiber arts, from driving her Yarn-V to all the major fiber events around the U.S. to creating the Golden Gate Fiber Institute.
She managed to coordinate the event, warp a loom, sit in on classes, and do occasional runs in to the city to get us stuff from her store. Now that's energy and dedication!

As I've said, it was a great event, and goodness knows I have more pictures. Next year, I'm bringing the tripod 'cause taking pictures inside of the events was hard! With people moving, wheels turning, loom shuttles flying, there wasn't enough light to take the high speed photos I needed to capture the event.

So, thank you, everyone who went and participated and taught, whether or not you were an actual instructor or just someone with experience to help a newbie. Y'all rock.