NHA Gathering 2018

I’ve been back from the NHA Gathering in Nashua, New Hampshire for a few of weeks now.  It’s always so much fun to get together with our tribe, isn’t it?  Hubby and I arrived Thursday late afternoon.  Whenever possible, we always like to have a little extra time to get settled in before all of the festivities begin.  And we weren’t the only ones!

Friday was spent mostly catching up with established (sounds better than “old” LOL) friends and meeting new ones.  And, of course, as Beth-Ann likes to call it, my “Tag and Release Program” began.  The stitch markers for this year’s Gathering (left) were designed to look a bit like the New Hampshire Gathering logo where the New Hampshire looks like a full bottom whorl spindle.  On the right are the stitch markers that my workshop participants receive. They are a different color every year but they always have a butterfly on the bottom because butterflies symbolize growth and change. What better way to grow and change than to keep learning!

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On Saturday, I taught my Spinning for Lace workshop.  In the past, this has been a half-day workshop and it always felt quite rushed.  So this year, I thought we’d try it as a full-day.  I felt that it went a bit slowly for a full-day and the evaluations submitted by the workshop participants confirmed it.  Some suggested that I add another one or two types of fiber to spin and I think that is a wonderful idea!  Still, we had a great time, shared a lot of laughs, and learned a lot from each other (because I always learn something from my workshop participants)!

I’m also thrilled to say that the premier of my Blending Board Techniques workshop on Sunday was a big success!   The feedback that I received indicated that this workshop needs to be a full-day.  And I agree wholeheartedly!  We were only able to complete a couple of techniques and briefly discuss a few others.  And just as on Saturday, we had a ton of fun, shared a lot of laughs, and learned a lot from each other!

Spinning Magic Yarn from My Spider’s Web

At Halloween, I get to be a little bit mischievous with my spinning!

The campground where we have our seasonal site has a Halloween celebration on Columbus Day weekend.  There is a haunted woods, pumpkin decorating, DJs and dancing, costume and site decorating contests, and, of course, Trick or Treating for the kids!

For the past two years, our Living History group has been taking part in a Halloween weekend event that is put on by the Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine.  In addition to the various vignettes performed by our group’s members, there is face painting, pumpkin decorating, spooky stories, games, and bat craft activities.

So, what’s a spinner to do at times like these?  Well, spin Magic Yarn, of course!  We set up a fake spider web (the kind that is in every store at Halloween).  Next, we put a lazy kate with three bobbins of reeled silk behind the web and poke the silk through three different places in the web.  Finally, I don my witch’s hat and begin spinning my Magic Yarn (throwing the reeled silk)!

You should see the kid’s (and their parents’) faces as I tell them “I’m spinning Magic Yarn from my spider’s web!”  Even though the bobbins are clearly visible behind the web, no one ever sees them!  And as the silk is coming through the web, it makes the web vibrate which only enhances the illusion that I’m spinning the spider web.

What’s your spinning mischief?

Silk Reeling Demonstrations

We just completed our third appearance demonstrating Silk Reeling at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival. We have been demonstrating silk reeling for at least eight years now in a variety of places (the Big E [Eastern States Exposition], the South Shore Natural Science Center, the Caterpillar Lab, a quilting guild, among others). My husband, Herman, and I enjoy these demonstrations, we enjoy the reactions of people when we explain the process and the end results. It’s difficult to choose whether it is more rewarding to demonstrate this to people who are not very familiar with how fabrics are made or those who are involved with the fiber arts.

When we demonstrate in places such as the Big E, we encounter many people have never given much thought as to where silk comes from. Although we generally experience a more informed audience when we demonstrate at fiber events, people are still quite amazed by the reeling process.

In almost all venues, many of our visitors are families with adults and children of all ages. The reactions to our explanations range from “Ewwww!” to “That is so cool!” We have often been told that our demonstrations alone are “worth the price of admission.” I love being able to let people touch silk from different species, view and touch various types of reeled silk thread, and hold cocoons. We also have a variety of silk preparations (sliver, brick, hankies and caps, lapps, noils, carrier rods, etc.) used by spinners, fly fisherman, and other crafters.

And I’m very happy to report that we’ve already been asked to return to the 2019 New York Sheep and Wool Festival! Hope we see you at one of our future demonstrations.

My Knit with Singles Swatch

This past April, our spinning Guild (Nutmeg Spinners’ Guild) hosted Amy King (Spunky Eclectic) and her two-day Sock Intensive workshop.  I’m not much of a sock knitter, but I love learning about all kinds of different spinning techniques!  One of the yarns that we made was an energized single.

We often talk about the effect that yarns that are not balanced have on knitted and woven fabric.  During the workshop, Amy also discussed different ways to mitigate these effects when knitting.  I’ve always understood the concept but have never actually experienced it for myself.  So here I was with this bobbin with a fair amount of energized singles and it occurred to me that this was a perfect opportunity!

And so, my experiment began (see photos below).

1.      I started with 2x2 ribbing and a seed stitch border.          
Result: Each of these areas are fairly straight.

2.      Next came a section of standard Stockinette Stitch.         
Result: This section showed a definite slant to the right.

3.      Then a section of Garter Stitch   
Result: This section is fairly straight.

4.      In the next section was Stockinette Stitch in which I knit through the back loop and purled through the front loop.          
Result: This section is fairly straight.  This also created a very interesting effect!

5.      Last, but not least, was the Stockinette Stitch in which I both knit and purled through the back loop.  
Result: This technique also created a straight fabric.

So, there you have it.  Have you ever made a sample “just to see what would happen”?  What were your results?  Please share!

51 Yarns and Why I’m Doing It

I rarely participate in spin/knit/etc.-alongs and when I have (Advent scarves), it has always been at my own pace.  This January, I took part in a challenge on Instagram called “We Make Yarn.”  Come to find out, no one minds if you go at your own pace, post photos late, or even if you choose not to participate in one or more parts of the challenge.  I also discovered that I enjoy participating in these types of challenges.  Mainly because they do just that … they challenge me.  They provide me with an opportunity to look at things differently, see more of what other folks are doing, try new things, and at times even laugh at myself!

The most recent challenge that I am doing is Ply Magazine’s 51 Yarns Spin-Along.  This challenge is particularly good for me because it is forcing me (ok, ok … I’m forcing myself) to try my hand at spinning several different yarns that I wouldn’t spin otherwise.  We’re almost halfway through the 51 Yarns and this has been so much fun!  I don’t think I’ll ever be very good at art yarns but, at least now, I can say that I’ve been able to spin samples of many of them.

If you’d like more information on the 51 Yarns Spin-Along, check it out at https://plymagazine.com/ply-books/51-yarns-spinalong/.  It’s not too late to start, remember it’s your challenge and your spinning!  So please join in on the fun!

And So It Begins …

For several years now, a few of my friends have been encouraging me to start a blog.  Well, here goes ...

About six years ago, I decided that I wanted to teach spinning workshops when I retire.  For a long time, the thought of having this “Retirement Career” was a great dream, but it all seemed a bit abstract.  In addition to all of the demonstrating I was doing, I started teaching some private lessons.  Then Knit New Haven hired me as their spinning teacher.  Next came a few workshops at Sheep and Wool festivals. 

Now, I’ve always taken a lot of spinning classes and have had the opportunity to talk to a number of more experienced mentors.  I have always battled with “Impostor Syndrome” (Scientific American defines this as “a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity or fraudulence despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary”) but during these conversations, I learned the even the most successful instructors often dealt with these feelings.  Knowing this suddenly made it so much easier.

About two years ago I submitted a proposal to Ply Magazine for the Spring 2018 issue on Planning.  Jacey’s mood board had asked "Can you avoid spinning disaster by planning the ultimate spinning toolbag? What about planning spinning trips?"  Well, she accepted my proposal and I wrote the article.

Now here I am, three magazine articles published (one in Ply and two in Spin-Off), one more about to be published next month in Ply, an excerpt of my Spin-Off article posted in Spinning Daily, a blog post on Spinning Daily written to augment my Spin-Off article, and a another article that I am currently writing for Ply's Summer 2019 issue.

And let’s not forget how completely bowled over I was when Jacey asked me to serve on Ply Magazine’s Advisory Board!!

I guess it’s safe to say that my “Retirement Career” isn’t such an abstract idea anymore!!