Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Magic with Dyeing & Plying

Okay, finally! the pictures and review of Patsy's class at John C Campbell Folk School. The title of the class was Magic with Dyeing & Plying. If you've never taken a class with Patsy Z. I highly recommend it. She is very well organized, a marvelous teacher, and was completely open to allowing each student to concentrate on the areas in which they were most interested. Nice! Since I have taken a dyeing workshop in the past (and now know that it's fun but I'd rather concentrate on other things), my main emphasis was the spinning portion of the class--how to use those pretty multicolored rovings others dye.

We started out choosing a multicolored roving from those that Patsy brought. There were several different types and colorways. Here's the one I picked. It's a little more pastel than it looks. Each morning, we'd use this roving to spin small samples and learned ways to record what we were doing so we could repeat them.

Here's the ring of my finished mini-skeins. We started out just spinning a simple random 2-ply yarn, then made a faux cable, added a new color to make a tweed, spun a true cable and made a carded neutral. The next day we spun a spiral slub, a spiral plied against a sewing thread and also plied silk against wooly nylon. In subsequent days we made knotted yarns (fun!) and both 3 part and 2 part core-spun Boucle (for those we used mohair, however I did also spin one of them with my handpainted roving). Lastly, there was a thick Lopi-like single, 2-ply matched colors, navaho ply, and what Patsy calls Illegal Yarn which is an S and a Z plied together S.

Yes! we were busy! Class ran from 9a-4:30p and we were given the opportunity to have 1.5 hrs off for lunch. We generally stayed from 9a-9:30 or 10p, just taking time for quick meals. As long as there were two people in the studio, Patsy had no problem allowing students to be there without here. She generally joined us in the evening and would demonstrate things that weren't officially included in the class.

One of those things was how to spin directly from the comb. Here's an in action shot of her doing that. Some of the other things I learned were how to use a drum carder and how to do a true long draw. Oh, and I forgot to mention that we worked with silk caps--dyeing and then spinning them.
This pick shows some of the dyed caps drying on the clothesline. That's mine in the middle with all the different colors. I thought I might be able to use it in a project along with a very brightly colored merino skein I spun in a Deb Menz workshop last summer, however, the cap turned into a pastel when spun--nearly a perfect match for the roving I used for the mini-skeins.

I didn't take any pics of the rainbow dyeing, however, we did a scour/dye pot that was intriguing. The first pic shows the raw locks (perendale/merino) placed in a net bag and just submerged in water. Dye was poured in and then the temp turned up.

This is the pot when it's finished cooking.

And here are the dyed and cleaned locks. I love that it's washed and dyed at the same time, though, you could use the same procedure with clean locks, too.

Attending the Folk School was a wonderful experience. Now I can't wait to see what Maryland Sheep & Wool is like.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Cast of Characters

Many times I'm asked by other knitters/spinners, "why take a class?". The short answer is because they're fun! As a self taught knitter, I learned most of what I
know through trial and error and reading books, but even when I started taking knitting classes (fairly recently) from respected authors whose work I've already ingested, I found I still learned something new--even if it was only a good/bad way to deal with teaching a class or maybe a new approach to a totally unrelated subject. And every new thing learned is valuable, I think. When it comes to spinning--I have so much to learn and classes are definitely speeding up the process. But really, the high point of all the classes I've taken are the great people I've met. So here are the talented group from the Folk School class earlier this month. I feel very fortunate to have shared the workshop with all of them.
Meet Roberta. Actually, I first met her at Meg's Knitting Camp a few years ago. We stayed in touch and have met at various knitting (and now spinning) events every year or so. She's modeling a gorgeous Faroese shawl knit out of her handspun yarn (mohair and Corriedale, I think). It's really a beautiful piece!
Then there's Darilee. She's a recent graduate (can't remember which school) and made this knitted igloo for her Senior Exhibit. (reminds me of the inventiveness of Debbie New) And, the carder she's sitting next to was a gift from her boyfriend. Nice guy--I'd say he was a keeper!
I caught a pic of Joan as she was dyeing some roving. Part of the class dealt with dyeing fiber and the other part on how to best utilize handpainted rovings through different spinning methods. Some people just have the dyer's touch, and Joan certainly does. Everything she tried turned out beautiful! Hopefully, it won't turn out that she's allergic to the dyes because that would certainly be a shame.
Then there was Nancy. She brought along the results of a dyeing project she worked on a number of years ago. It completely blew me away! She dyed and then spun a range of colors--one batch from regular primary colors blue/yellow/red and another from the printers colors turquoise/yellow/magenta. Each spun sample has a card detailing the percentage of each of the colors it was dyed with so that it can be duplicated. I'm sure I'm not describing it quite right but the entire thing took her a year to complete. She also wore some great handspun/handknit garments with equally fun stories about how she found the fibers she used.
Next, is Kathryn. She teaches Dollmaking at the Folk School. As part of their payment, teachers are able to take classes there (at a reduced rate, I think she said). Her dolls are quite interesting, take a look. I spent alot of time comparing notes with Kathryn, too, as she used the same roving as I did for the plying portion of our class--see the ring hanging on the front of her wheel. It was interesting to see the differences in how they turned out since we both tend to spin different size yarns than each other.
This next pic is of our teacher Patsy (on the left) and student Jeanne (on the right) surrounded by the dyed fibers that graced the clothesline each morning. Patsy is a terrific teacher! I'd highly recommend her classes. She not only has an impressive knowledge of spinning but she's a great story teller! And Jeanne, was a most dedicated student. I believe she was the only one that actually dyed all the fibers with which we had to play. For my part, I was much more interested in the spinning portion of the class since I tend to keep Lisa's # on speed dial, anyway.
And, last but not least, there's Pat. She not only brought her gorgeous Kromski wheel with her to class, but also the matching stool so she didn't have to deal with the uncomfortable folding chairs. Very smart! She also brought several bags of processed roving from her Shetland sheep. I thought I knew what it would feel like, after all, I've knit several FI sweaters from Shetland yarn. But this stuff was incredibly soft! After trying a sample and getting it spun fairly fine (I was using a wheel from the school which developed the shakes when I'd try to spin lace weight which fortunately mine at home doesn't do), I knew I needed some of it so traded her some of my patterns for several oz. of a creamy white. I hope to knit a real Shetland ring shawl from it...someday.

First, I need to practice the novelty plys I learned in the workshop. Patsy is teaching another one next winter on spinning cotton, flax and silk. I'm already thinking about it. How about all of you?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I'm finally home from this place--John C Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. It was an amazing experience! Nearly all the people I met, those attending classes or working at the Folk School, were warm and friendly. The only exceptions were the two ladies working at the craft shop and the shuttle driver (by all means if you need transportation from the Atlanta airport find some other way than the shuttle).
Unless the students are local or stay in the campground, they are assigned living accommodations at different houses on the property. This is where I stayed. It's called Orchard House. My roommate had attended the school previously and had specifically requested this place and it was very nice. But really, I spent very little time here, as almost every waking moment was spent at Davidson Hall (where my spinning class was held). Most classes had a dedicated studio space, however, the tatting class was held in the living room at Orchard House so we always took time to check out their progress each morning before breakfast. The next time I attend the Folk School, I'd love to stay at Mill House pictured at left. Or Rock House, which I didn't photograph. They both look like they have alot of character and it would be fun to stay somewhere different. All the houses and studios are accessible from walking paths scattered around the property. This is the red rail fence which led from the dining hall down to Davidson Hall. It was a beautiful time to visit NC. The cherry trees were in bloom as well as redbud trees (which I'd never seen before since they can't grow this far north). Also, clumps of all varieties of daffodils were in full bloom as well as my favorite flower of all--pansies. This bed was at the bottom of the red rail fence and made me smile every time I saw it.

Next time, more on the spinning class.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Gone Spinnin'

Early tomorrow morning I'll be on my way to John C Campbell Folk School in the beautiful mountains of NC to take a week long workshop with the Spinning Guru herself, Patsy Z. So check back in a couple of weeks for photos.