Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back from Spinners' Nirvana

Okay I spent the weekend at a Fiber Retreat in Jefferson City, Missouri. It was my first year there - and what a fabulous experience. The scenery is idyllic. Even though the weather was COLD and rainy, it was sweater and shawl weather, which just gave the spinners, knitters and weavers a chance to wear their favorite projects. Each year, this conference focuses on a different theme. This year it was spinning. Even though I've been really tight on money, this conference was well worth every penny and wasn't expensive. It was very affordable and I felt like I got as much or more information out of it than some people get at more expensive conferences.

The first class I took was Beyond the Basics with Nancy Barnett. It was a really good chance, in a relaxed atmosphere, to ask a lot of questions about our spinning problems and figure out how to spin better in terms of technique. We learned how to use a drumcarder and hand cards, and how using each created different yarns. The teacher, Nancy, raises angora bunnies and taught us how to spin angora and to extend it by combining it with other fibers to make it more durable and go farther. The angora is a short-stapled fiber, and it can be challenging to spin, but she guided us through and when carding it with other fibers, I found I really liked the softness and warmth of it.


Patsy Zawistoski taught the next class I took on "Spinning Designer Yarns." This class was really intense - we analyzed commercial yarns by unspinning them and analyzing the plies and how the mill spun the yarns. We deconstructed yarns, basically and talked about what yarns are beneficial to try to replicate and which ones are easier to just buy at the yarn shop. She gave us a really handy tool to use to help in decoding it. This class taught me SO MUCH. By taking yarn apart, we learned how a variety of types of yarns are made. Fascinating. The time flew by.

Then I had my first ever official "Acid Dyeing" class with Gail White. It was called "All Tied Up in Knots." We learned about printer's and painter's colors. Painters are brighter in tone - jewel tones; whereas printer's are more muted and subdued. We dyed 6 different skeins of yarns using acid dyes - I've never come away from a class with so much yarn! It was so much fun playing with color and getting ideas for how I might try it at home.


The last class and probably my absolute favorite out of all of them was "Spinning Sock Yarn" with Janel Laidman, author of The Eclectic Sole and Enchanted Socks. That woman is amazing. She knows her stuff. We learned what qualities make good sock yarn and what wool or other fiber content creates that ideal. We spun a variety of structures and tensions - as well as plied different configurations. She checked to make sure we were spinning the right grist, strength and texture. We learned about how you can use different fibers, such as tencel and bamboo and nylon to stengthen socks. We learned different plying methods to get us the type of sock yarn we like best- either long-wearing or warmer and softer. The fiber she brought for us to experiment on was gorgeous. Wow! I came away really feeling confident and eager to try to make my own sock yarn - but first I have to finish spinning for Oatmeal sweater.

That's it folks, when they said, "Fiber Retreat" that's a misnomer because I was busy concentrating and learning that it was muore stimulating than relaxing. But it was a blast and I definitely will want to do it again in the future. Definitely a "two thumbs up."

7 comments:

Chery said...

Sounds like you had a good time.

Rebecca said...

oh sounds like a wonderful wonderful weekend!!!! i'm so happy for you because you really it! sounds like so much fun and so much great info! YEAH YOU!!!!!!!!!!

Elysbeth said...

Sounds like just what you needed. I might be slightly envious?!? And you got to meet the BeeBonnet. Wow.

colorandtexture said...

Oh, that looks like it was SO much fun!! I've always wondered about that retreat and it looks like it was well worth going to.

Dorothy said...

What a wonderful retreat! I have several spinning functions coming up in the next few months and we're touching on some of the same topics - intentional spinning to get exactly the yarn you want and spinning for socks. They're not concentrated all in one weekend, but I hope I learn as much as you did.

Kim in Michigan said...
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Jeannine Bakriges said...
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