Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fiber Fest in Jeff City

Just returned from the best kept fiber learning secret in the Midwest - the Jefferson City Fiber Festival that is held every year in March. This was my second year attending, and it's just the best fiber learning opportunity I can imagine, short of SOAR (Spin Off Autumn Retreat) - but SOAR is too rich for my budget, while the one here in my state is so much more affordable and convenient. Plus, we often get many of the same teachers.

My classes this year were all spinning ones - 1) Setting Yourself Free with Scissors - which was drum carding and spinning by using novelty fibers and leftovers from other projects, and combining them into glorious batts in such as way that it LOOKS like art yarn, but is much more pleasing to my eye - and is much easier to boot. This was the most fun and easy class I took all weekend. It was also my favorite. There's a better chance of me using this immediately in my projects than anything else.

You can see that I loved this so much that I spun the yarn, washed and dried it in my hotel room and then created this little neckscarf that coordinated with a hand-made button that a newly-met friend, Susan, offered me. Isn't it beautiful? She has a real button making talent. I wish she sold them online, but she only does them for fun. I hadn't spun chunky singles in a while and this was really a blast.

2) Spinning Cotton - quite a challenge, but boy I learned a lot. This class helped perfect my ability to spin on a high whirl, treadles fast, move my hands VERY fast and practice long draw, which has usually been impossible for me. We also learned to draft cotton using special cotton cards. I can't believe how much fiber a little bit of cotton spins into. It's a very short staple. It was a pleasure to watch Leslie use a supported spindle, I think called tahkli (pronounced "talk-lee").

3) Spinning Flax - the teacher was a fiber genius and I had a great time. We spun with these high distaffs that reminded me of something I'd see people marching around with in Rennaisance times. Huzzah! It is a really challenging but FUN fiber to spin. The teacher made us realize how much work goes into getting Flax from the plant into shape enough to spin, and it is really labor intensive. Flax eventually becomes linen. It softens up more and more with each wash.

4) Woolen vs. Worsted - how to tell the difference and change your spinning technique to match the type of fiber you are spinning. Very enlightening and in this one, I finally learned how to use hand cards, or believe so anyway. The teacher, Darlene, was very patient and helpful, but a 12 year old fellow spinner named Shannon really helped cement the concept of hand carding and made it "click" in my brain. We practiced worsted vs. woolen prep and we learned that cottons are best done with long draw, while long fibers which I normally prefer are best done with the inchworm beginner method which is still my fallback technique. We got to work with fresh lamb's fleece, washed but not carded, and I finally know a butt from a tip - and how to flick it then card it and spin it without messing up the alignment of the fibers.

Whew! Very fun but exhausting weekend. Not so much as a retreat as a brain squeeze - but it gave me enough ideas and material to practice on for a good long time. I highly recommend this affordable festival to anyone in the Midwest who can attend.


Rebecca said...

what a wonderful exciting weekend!!!! sounds like you learned so much and had such a great time. i'mso happy you were able to do this. thanks for sharing your experience. your scarf is gorgeous and that button matches your shirt and ties in the scarf jsut perfectly. green looks really great on you.

Elysbeth said...

Sounds like so much fun! And a nice selection of learning. Sometimes the "small" festivals are the best, you get to participate/interact much more.

tina said...

Oh RATS----- I wish I would have known!!!! Remind me next year wouldja?