Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pondering

I’m in a place again where I’d like to blog a little about my goings-on, fibery and otherwise. I’m a bit worried, though, that this blog is completely irrelevant. It has been hodge-podge and erratic, and it has never had any cohesiveness. This may or may not matter, given that I write for myself and possibly for a tiny tiny audience, and I kind of wonder if I should just stick with it because starting new blogs all the time is silly. But at the moment, I do kind of feel like I could make something more interesting, something I could look back on for myself and keep track of what I was thinking and doing. I’m going to have to ponder this, and also maybe research a little bit about best practices. I need a better workflow for photographs, for one thing, and more consistency with tagging.

Another observation is that my writing style has gotten very convoluted in the past few years! I feel like I used to be able to express myself clearly, in my own voice and with my own tone. Lately though I look back at my sentences and feel like they resemble word salad, with phrases that don’t come out sounding at all like they do in my head. Possibly I need a grammar refresher, or to stop second-guessing and over-editing everything I write. (Things start out reasonably, for the most part, but then I excise sentences and rearrange words and that is when the nonsense and excessive complication rears its ugly head.)

Anyway. It’s spring on the island, edging into summer. The children are out of school and spending lots of time out of doors as well as time with their noses in books. The garden is growing, though I feel perpetually behind on my planting calendar, and of course the weeding. I’m feeling really good about Tour de Fleece, though still grieving the bustling productivity of pre-2015 FOAY. I’m leash training the kitten, and gearing up to hopefully welcome our puppy in a couple of months. I’ve accepted the role of PTA treasurer and have a little trepidation but frankly a little eagerness about receiving the handover of records and signing privileges, and seeing what this organization can do in the next year. So…life is good. Hopefully I can share a bit about it in time.

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Judith, Judith, CPW

D’oh. Guess my Breed Challenge participation petered out. But! I have things about which to write! 😛

Last weekend was the annual Whidbey Spin-In. It was the 40th anniversary of the event and to commemorate the occasion, the organizers brought in Judith Mackenzie as the featured presenter. Now, I’ve idolized Judith from afar since some time around 2007 when her “Teach Yourself Visually: Handspinning” book was published, and the online community was abuzz about how it was about time that this amazing guru of spinning (and weaving and dyeing) found a medium to share her knowledge with more people than those who could attend her workshops. The more I learned about her, the more I admired. Then her second book “The Intentional Spinner” came out in 2008 and I jumped on that. It was a wealth of detailed information and I could really see what a treasure Judith was!

So for years I’ve dreamed of hearing from her in person and last weekend that dream was fulfilled. On Saturday Judith gave a lecture on Popular Wheel Mechanics, talking for a brief hour and a half about the basic operation of various types of wheels and how each should be maintained. On Sunday she taught a workshop for about four hours on “Spinning Thick, Spinning Thin, Spinning Thick & Thin” (ie. diameter control). Her approach of making adjustments to the wheel in order to make a range of yarns is basically addressed on her DVD Popular Wheel Mechanics as well. Unfortunately with so many people in attendance, she only got through the “Spinning Thick” portion! However, I learned a ton and it was such a delight to work with the Corriedale top that she’d dyed herself.

But then came the real highlight of the weekend. On Monday, the Whidbey Weavers Guild offered its members an additional, all-day workshop with Judith. Well, I’d been attending Guild events for a year but hadn’t yet become a member, so you’d better believe I sent in my application post-haste! I was so pleased to have that opportunity. The subject of the workshop was The Spinner’s Toolbox, which is also the subject of another DVD that she’s produced with Interweave Press. However, sitting with her from 9-4:30 or so, in a group with maybe 20 other people, was just an unparalleled experience. I learned so, so much. My spinning took a massive leap forward as I learned about how and why to use worsted, woolen, semi-worsted, semi-woolen, slub, and bouclé drafting techniques. I left there with m mind buzzing with ideas for making incredible lofty knitting yarns, unusual textured weaving yarns, sturdy sock yarns, and so much more. She handed out samples of Corriedale top, bleached tussah silk top, cashmere/silk, alpaca, mohair/Rambouillet roving, and probably more. I spun the most incredibly fine and lustrous and smooth thread from cultivated bombyx silk that I could possible have dreamed of! I need to practice some of the bouclé and encasement techniques.

The organizer of this workshop was the wife of Jon McCoy who makes the Pocket Wheel. She couldn’t be there so Jon served as the host and facilitator, and also chimed in with some fascinating conversation about wheel mechanics. I learned an utter ton from him as well, and during one of these chats, he made a remark about Canadian Production wheels. Suddenly I remembered all I’d ever heard about and lusted over regarding this unique design, the hand-made wheels that were used in Canada for efficient spinning of very fine yarns at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. They aren’t particularly easy to use, nor particularly adjustable, but they are the perfect tool for that one kind of fine high-twist yarn, and as a bonus they tend to cost less than $200 because of age and disrepair.

So I came home unsure whether I’d be best served by a new wheel, or an antique wheel, or just sticking with my own wheel. But on a Ravelry forum I suddenly ran full-force into a squad of CPW enablers and succumbed. I need a CPW now and I’m working on getting one. There’s one in unknown condition in Vancouver, BC, and another with a non-original flyer on it that’s about to be in working condition and is in Seattle. One way or the other I hope to have one of these amazing creatures within the next couple of weeks!

So, that’s all the news that’s fit to print right now. Hopefully I’ll soon have some more Breed Challenge entries to share. 🙂

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