Vermont Sheep and Wool, Heaven on Earth

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I’m on my way back from teaching at Vermont Sheep and Wool, and it was glorious. It’s a smaller show, which I’m finding I like a little better than the giant shows, people have more time to talk and shop, and it moves at a lovely pace.

Or maybe that’s just Vermont. Vermont is one of those place I feel at home when I go, the people and the whole of outdoors there, it feels good to me.

My students here had more questions than anywhere else I’ve taught this year, which is great. I usually tell my students that for each class I have a road I travel on, but I love all of the side trips that questions bring. They even helped me design a another color class!

I ran into Amy Christoffers (and her mom!) who lives nearby. Between hugging and talking about books we’re reading she assisted me in a little shopping. You can see her over there with Peggy of Savage Hart Farm in her Savage Heart cardigan.

I picked up my Carbeth cardigan yarn at Green Mountain Spinnery, Weekend Wool in Pumpkin. I can’t wait to start knitting. I bought some fiber too, but want to spin some samples before I show you. Of course, no eastward trip is every complete without a visit with Isobel in Buffalo.

Now to finish my drive back to Michigan!

It Takes So Long To Learn New Things

Just some of Austin Kleon’s words of wisdom.

Just some of Austin Kleon’s words of wisdom.

I read and enjoy Austin Kleon's newsletter every week. I always find something interesting and fun to read, watch, listen to or think about. He talks about being creative and doing the work of a creative person. I also like his books Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work, they are short, pithy and I think about the ideas in them a lot.

Every once in awhile there's something in his newsletter that makes me say "Hell, yes" out loud. There was one of those in his newsletter last Friday. It was link to one of his blog posts called A Willingness to Be Bad.

The part that resonated with me like Wile E. Coyote getting clocked with an Acme anvil is how hard it is to learn things. Not just learn new things, but get better at something. Right now I am feeling so much of this. I'm trying to learn something new, weaving, and get better at things I've done for longer spinning, knitting, stitching, and I'm just sucking at it all.

After reading Austin's post and all of the links I realize that I've stopped having patience with myself for sucking (or just staying the same). I'd forgotten that learning is a process that's not always fun and creative, but sticking with something, having that patience to keep trying is how I learn, and really what I enjoy. I'm very much a process not a product person. It was a relief to be reminded.

Check out Austin's blog (he blogs every day), and sign up for his newsletter(it comes out every Friday).

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool - What I Bought

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Wisconsin Sheep and Wool is always a delightful show, the people, the vendors, the sheep, the food, all are always excellent.

The weather even turned for the show from lots of muggy rain to sunny and cool enough to wear a flannel shirt, a little Wisconsin magic.

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I taught four full classes this year. It was great to see familiar faces, and to have students that took more than one class with me. I am so very grateful for their support.

That Louet was painted by one of my students, when she was injured and couldn’t spin, gorgeous.

Wisconsin spinners are speedy and very clever. They spun a lot of color over the weekend, and everyone was excited to get home to rethink their stashes. There may have been braid shopping too.

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There was so much beautiful CVM at this show. I was really, really tempted. Before I commit to a fleece I want to have the time to process it , and just a tiny bit of a plan.

One of my students bought two unbelievable CVM fleeces. She let me pet those and dream during class.

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I did do a bit of shopping. My big purchase was a Majacraft hackle, I’m ready to blend fiber and colors! I bought 4 braids of Merino/Yak/Silk from Gale’s Art, her colors are so pretty. Before you ask, yes, I’m going to combine them, I’m just no sure how. I bought some crazy soft Cormo to use at my Spin and Nosh class this weekend. I bought a pound of organic dried lavender to make more lavender sachets on my Zoom Loom for gifts.

I alluded to my love of Green Mountain Spinnery yarn in my last post, and confessed to ordering a bag+ of Weekend Wool in the Pumpkin color to make a Carbeth. I also bought a skein of Yarn Over and two skeins of their new Ragg-Time marled yarn to play with.

I’m sad I won’t be able to teach at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool in 2019, I have a conflicting deadline. I will be teaching at Susan’s Fiber Retreat in Wisconsin at the beginning of March 2019, I’ll let you know the details when I know them.

Green Mountain Spinnery Weekend Wool - I'm a Smitten Kitten

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This weekend I taught at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival (more on that next week) and it was wonderful. The last thing I expected to happen was to fall hard for a yarn. How hard? Please, I'd-like-a-whole-bag hard. The yarn is Weekend Wool by Green Mountain Spinnery.

It's been around for awhile, but not on my radar. I bought a couple of skeins to swatch for a Carbeth Cardigan (I held it double). I made sweet knitterly love to it by winding it by hand, swatching and even blocking my my swatch. The next day I asked Maureen and Kate for 12 skeins for a Carbeth. I'll be picking up my new yarn love at the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival.

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What makes it a great yarn to me? It's soft and sturdy. The blend of breeds is genius, some Rambouillet, Columbia, Corriedale, Romney, and a big helping of Targhee. The Targhee and Rambouillet make is soft and crazy sproingy, the Columbia, Corrie, and Romney make it strong and give it good stitch definition.

It's woolen spun, so even doubled, it's light. Did I mention it's tweedy?

Can you see me doing a Snoopy dance?

Woven Scarf Planning

You might have seen that I bought quite a bit of yarn for weaving when I was at Maggie Casey's shop a couple of weeks ago.

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Here's what I bought: a little Merino/silk, a little Harrisville Shetland, and some alpaca.

What am I going to do with all of that yarn? I'm going to weave scarves until I feel really comfortable on the two looms I have. Everyone needs a scarf, right? I want my woven scarves to be like zucchini in high summer, I'll have so many that I'll be sneaking them into people's bags and leaving them on porches.





Before I start much spinning for weaving I need to get weaving for weaving stuck in my head, basic weaving - rigid heddle and maybe a little twill. This plan feels good, much better than when I was going to try to figure out weaving and spinning for weaving at the same time.






You did notice that I got multiple colors of all of the yarns didn't you? I'm not one for solids and I'm curious about the interaction of color in weaving.  I'll do a little playing with color as I scarf my way through fall and winter.


Harrisville Shetland

Harrisville Shetland


What's up first? Something for me in my signature Willy Wonka colors, purple and lime. A little Harrisville Shetland on my Cricket. I want to do something stripey with the colors, easy and fun.


8 Tips for Spinning with a WooLee Winder

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I frequently get questions about spinning with a WooLee Winder.

I have two and I use them a lot. I have a Schacht compatible WW, and I move it between the Schacht wheels I own (Matchless, Sidekick, and Flatiron) with zero problems. I have one for my Hansen MiniSpinner and I typically don't spin without it.

I am definitely a WooLee Winder fan. If you are thinking about a WooLee Winder, or newly spinning with one here are few tips to help you like yours as much as I like mine.

  1. Try before you buy. Like all tools that cost more than a couple of bucks, I suggest that you try a WooLee Winder before you buy one. Try to test drive a WooLee Winder on the same type of wheel you want use; they feel different on each brand brands a models of wheel.
  2. Start slowly. Spinning with a WooLee Winder feels a little different, make sure to start slowly and make adjustments to your wheel along the way. 
  3. Turn down the tug.  A WooLee Winder adds extra pull to your spinning because it's winding your yarn on for you. For some people (especially spinners who make very fine yarns) this is a deal breaker. I have to turn the uptake on my Scotch tension wheels down significantly when I use my WooLee Winder. I cross lace on the arm of the flyer, especially if I am spinning fine with a woolen draft. 
  4. Oil her to keep her happy. I put a couple drops of oil on the travel screw for every couple of full bobbins I spin. Do not over oil. If there is too much oil  the excess oil will be flug all over the room as you spin, ask me how I know.
  5. Watch the wrap. If you find your yarn won't wind on no matter what adjustments you make, check to make sure your yarn isn't looped around the eyelet that travels up and down the flyer. For me this is the answer to yarn not winding on 95% of the time.
  6. Make sure the gears are lined up. This is the answer to yarn not winding on the other 5% of the time. Make sure the nylon gears on the bobbin and on the flyer are meshing, if they aren't nothing will turn. 
  7. Be focused when disassembling. If you need to take your WooLee Winder apart, be very focused. There is a great tutorial with pictures on the WooLee Winder site. Sit at a table in good light and lock yourself away from kitties. When I do a disassembly I work in a sheet pan with a lip to contain the parts, and on top of a small towel, so small parts won't roll away. The reasons I've had to take my WooLee winder apart were the same each time, a small chunk of fiber dropped into the winding mechanism and wound itself around, making the winding on uneven.
  8. Bring the pretty. Akerworks, the company that brings the pretty to spinning, has WooLee Winder compatible bobbins. There is a special kind of joy I get choosing what color bobbin to use for a new spin.

Have fun spinning and plying with your WooLee Winder!


Spinning at Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins

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I had such a great time teaching at Maggie Casey's shop in Boulder that I took almost no pictures.

We had a sugar gliders as guests in class one day. They are so soft and cuddly. 

Apart from teaching I spent some time goofing and talking fiber and weaving with Stephanie Flynn Sokolov. That's her up there at the Fancy Tiger sale table. Maggie took me to the most fantastic restaurants, including the Boulder Teahouse. We even managed to go on a little hike.

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I taught for three days, heavy on color. My students were focused, curious and creative.

They spun like the wind, some even knit their samples in the evening after class.

They were the type of group that gave and as much as they took. There was so much fiber knowledge in the room.



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But what did I buy, you ask? I bought two more Sonya Philip"s patterns at Fancy Tiger. I bought some 4-H raised cashmere at Maggie's. I  fell down hard on the Shuttles part of Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins, two cones of Harrisville Shetland, four cones of Jaggerspun Zephyr, and four ounces each of four colors of alpaca. I'm feeling it's time to stop dreaming about weaving, and just sit down and weave. I'm starting with scarves, and I'm very excited.

I'll leave you with a moment of Zen from Boulder.

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Sometimes Tiny Vacations Are Best

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This summer has been busier than usual. Andy has to travel more for his job, the kids are busy doing the things kids do. and I'm gearing up for a fabulous fall teaching tour.

I didn't schedule a family vacation, usually we camp or cabin, but there was no time to wedge in four days in a row with everything else going on.



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So we went on a spectacular mini vacation, an overnight to Cincinnati. Why Cincinnati? Because our family is a little in love with Fiona the baby hippo. 

We went to the Cincinnati Zoo and met Fiona, we ate out, we went to a great bookstore, and just hung out together. 

It was great and just what we needed this summer. I want to plan a couple more little vacations before the year is over.

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I even got a little weaving done in the car. I'm intrigued by this book, has anyone read it?

What adventures have you ha this summer?