Sunday, May 02, 2010


I feel less jealous of everyone that spent this past weekend fondling fleeces and ogling yarn and fiber at Maryland Sheep and Wool because I spent the weekend before at the Spinning Loft's Spring Retreat 2010. It was held at a magnificent bed and breakfast and I spent the mornings learning, the afternoons spinning, and the rest of the time waiting for food to be delivered magically. Forget spa weekends and cabana boys - give me a suitable supply of fiber, a box of wine, and my own personal chef.

Shearer Elegance
Shearer Elegance, the B & B owned by Beth's parents.

Mornings were spent playing with fiber. On Friday morning, we played with fine wools, flicking and then spinning the locks. On Saturday, we played with long wools and combed and spun the locks. Sunday morning, we played with the down breeds and hand-carded then spun the locks. I think I'm remembering the order correctly: Friday was Merino, Cormo (amazingly luscious locks of cormo), and Corriedale. Saturday was Lincoln, Leicester Longwool, and Wensleydale. Sunday was Jacob, Dorset, Cheviot, and Scottish Blackface.

Locks for lovin'

Friday and Saturday afternoons found us engaging in the orgiastic joy of more spinning and more fiber. Beth and Chelsea had set up a lovely mobile shop in one of the front rooms of the B&B and I believe every one of us wandered through that room 25 times each day, fondling and plucking new fluff to add to our growing to-buy piles. Friday, some of us learned more spindling techniques. Saturday, spinners got to practice long-draw techniques. And Sunday, we all gathered 'round the table and got schooled in the fine art of drum-carding. I managed to keep my to-buy pile manageable and even put some things back (I'd had several spindles vying for my attention, but then I decided - right after the last set sold out of the mobile shop - that I really wanted a pair of hand combs and should save my money for those).

When we weren't in class or shopping, we spun. There was charkha action, spindle plying, and 20 or more spinning wheels whirring away on the patio, the porch, and in the parlor. In addition to the half bobbin of stuff from class that I spun, I plowed through nearly 4 oz of Polwarth from Southern Cross Fibre in the Pandora colorway (laceweight, on the Matchless), came within mere micro-ounces of finishing Gnomespun's Polwarth in the War for the Oaks colorway (laceweight, on the Bee) (I've since finished it, chain-plied it, dunked it, and neglected to photograph it).

Incidentally, I've finally figured out what the P in Polwarth stands for: "Please, Hammer, don't hurt me." You see, when I'm spinning Polwarth it's all I can do to warn others away with a simple "You can't touch this!" I think if we all remember what the P stands for, my spinning can become more productive. I'm only half-kidding....

Spinning and stuff

And, of course there was the Stuff That Came Home With Me - Yarn Hollow and Spunky Eclectic made up most of my loot with the two prominent fibers being Wensleydale and Polwarth (surprise!). I also bought 2 oz of Tussah silk top dyed by cjkoho in the Bethie colorway - my only other experience with spinning silk was right after I got my first wheel and while it was not a bad skein, I now know a lot more about spinning and think I can do a finer job with the silk. We'll see!

All in all, it was simply a wonderful weekend spent doing something I truly love, meeting new and interesting people, and learning about different sheep breeds and fiber prep techniques. I can't wait to sign up for next year's retreat (Beth! You MUST have another one!!!) nor can I wait to go home and play with my fiber!


Anonymous said...

What, no picture of the closet?

Janis said...

Very nice! I'm jealous. :) (Hm, I have some Polwarth that needs carding in my stash....)

Carole Knits said...

That looks like a beautiful spot!