Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Three Weekends in a Row

Let’s go in reverse order. I got home Monday from the Toledo, Ohio area. I had spent Saturday and Sunday teaching spinning workshops for the Black Swamp Spinners Guild.  

For my overnights, I stayed with the Guild president, Deb. She and her husband have a lovely farmhouse; he’s a farmer, she raises alpacas and llamas. Deb made me feel comfortable and welcome.

The workshops were held at the Eight Leafed Clover B & B. The B & B provided breakfast treats, lunch and dinner in a delightful setting. The grounds were a pleasure to explore, especially when I’d find the occasional chicken strolling around.

The attending spinners were all cheery and fun to spend time with. And they were generous! Wendy sent me home with some of her hand dyed Targhee wool top (in the colorway, Nevertheless, She Persisted), Ann Mary sent me home with some of her angora fiber (three colors) from her Satin angora bunnies, and Deb sent me home with some lovely grey alpaca from her beautiful herd. I’ve got some delicious spinning in my future!

Wendy (whom I’d met when I taught knitting workshops in the Toledo area in April) also brought more of her fabulous molasses-ginger cookies, and she even gave me a copy of the recipe! Good thing, too, because the cookies did not last long.

The weekend before, I drove down to Ohio, but this time to Wooster. I taught some workshops at the Great Lakes Fiber Show.  

It was a large group of students on Saturday morning for my long draw class. They were really game for trying new techniques. The smaller class on Sunday for spinning luxury fibers allowed for good discussion and ideas about how to spin some really yummy fibers.

On Saturday afternoon I judged the skein competition. This is an activity that I used to do regularly at the Michigan Fiber Festival, and once at the NYS Sheep & Wool Festival (aka, Rhinebeck). At GLFS, the judging is done in front of an audience. I really like that strategy. I get to spell out my judging criteria and values (er, “biases”). For example, I really value a yarn that is a good match for the intended use. There were many wonderful skeins. For Best of Show, I chose one that I thought was especially well spun, uniformly plied, and where the yarn and fiber content were particularly well matched to the intended use.

I managed to get a bit of shopping done. There were so many wonderful vendors at this event! And I dropped off a few fleeces with Carol Wagner of Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill to get processed, some just washed, some to be carded into roving.

Prior to those two weekends of driving down to Ohio (6-8 hours, one way), I drove north to Pickford, Michigan (only 4 hours, one way). I got to attend the Spring Fiber Fling, sponsored by the Country Spinners and Bridge Shuttlers guild  and held at the Northwoods Christian Camp. It was a brief visit. For that trip, I was accompanied by my friend Becky. She’s always good company, especially when we travel into the Upper Peninsula!

I wish I’d been able to spend more time at the Fling. Next year, for sure! They are fantastic and lively folks with whom I always enjoy spending time.

As much as I love travelling to teach and share fibery goodness, three weekends in a row of To and Fro was a bit much. I returned home with a horrendous cough and cold. So, I won’t be doing my spring cleaning or gardening as soon as I’d planned. At least this week, I get to dog sit; I’m taking care of Auggie, a most well-mannered and handsome Weimaraner.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Lucky Baby

Travelling to Duluth is always a treat. I was gone for 7 days; I left on Thursday, May 3, and got home on Wednesday, May 9. On the way to Duluth, I stayed overnight in Ironwood, on the far west border between the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin. There was still some snow on the ground in the UP and ice on the water near Munising, Marquette and also Ashland, WI.

Arriving midday Friday, I was greeted by Judy McLaughlin and her husband Jim. I stayed with them for the duration. They are both generous and gracious, and they made my working trip as easy as could be. As a bonus, Judy made her fabulous lamb stew, which we had – along with mint juleps – on Saturday to celebrate the Kentucky Derby. My pick, Justify, won! (Well, he was the favorite…)
Judy and me. Lamb stew and mint juleps.
On Friday night, I gave a presentation, "Sources of Inspiration", to the Duluth Fiber Handcrafters Guild and enjoyed a delightful pot luck dinner. This is a presentation that I especially like; it gives me the opportunity to combine my thoughts on dance, neuroscience, art, fiber, rocks, and Michigan.

Saturday and Sunday workshops were “Blending Colors at the Wheel” and “Creating the Yarn You Want”. The group of spinners was terrific; engaged and inquisitive. Judy and another guild member took and shared photos. Here are a few.
I'm explaining some samples I'd made.

Here are some samples that participants made in the workshop.
I stayed an extra day in Duluth. Judy, her friend Donna, and I visited Marie Glaesemann. Marie has sheep. Over the years, I’ve purchased many fleeces from her, and they’ve all been great! This year I got two: from sheep named “Lucky” and “Baby”. Both are mixed-breed sheep, with some Corriedale, some Romney, and maybe some Merino or Ile de France in there too. I can hardly wait to get these two fleeces processed into roving.
Marie on the left, Judy on the right.

"Lucky" above, "Baby" below.

Marie's spinning wheel. I gave the drive wheel a "shove" and it spun around endlessly. Sweet!

Judy, Donna, and I then had lunch and a visit to the yarn shop, Yarn Harbor. I bought a couple skeins of a lovely wool/silk lace weight yarn for re-knitting my “Curvy Corner Shawl”, a pattern that I plan to write up and have available later this year.

I finished the day by finishing the book I’d brought with me on the trip: Louise Penny’s Glass Houses. I am addicted to this author’s series of mysteries set in eastern Canada and featuring Inspector Gamache.

The trip home held more adventures. First I stopped in Ironwood to shop at the local Ben Franklin’s. At the entry of this town, there’s a billboard stating that this Ben Franklin’s is the largest gift shop in the Upper Peninsula. With a claim like that, I had to stop. I bought some cotton yarn for more dish rags and a few odds and ends for other fiber projects. Also a few bumper stickers to adorn the car I got last fall.
Then I stopped at Fiddle Knoll Farm  a bit south of Marquette. Sue Kapla is the shepherd. She raises Romney and CVM sheep. This year, I had reserved the fleece from a CVM ewe, “Heli”. The fleece is gorgeous! I can hardly wait to share it with students in my workshops. Sue is a PhD trained animal behaviorist. In addition to raising happy and healthy sheep, she is also a dog trainer. On this visit I got some dog advice from her (because I’m hoping to get a dog sometime this year). She’s a wealth of knowledge!

Heli's fleece, still on the hoof.
The penultimate stop on the way home was in Nawbinway. I got some smoked salmon at King’s Fish Market. Another good place for bumper stickers. There was still some snow and ice in the UP on my way home. Lastly, I stopped in Petoskey to pick up some dreamy peanut brittle at Kilwins. Yum!

Next weekend I get to go back to the UP for the Spring Fiber Fling in Pickford. Say Ya To Da UP, Eh!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

May Madness

Yay! May is a month of action for me. I will be travelling both north and south to share fiber goodness.

First, I will be driving to Duluth, Minnesota. That means I get to drive over the Mackinac Bridge and through the Upper Peninsula. The Duluth Art Institute  is hosting my spinning workshops “Creating the Yarn You Want” and “Blending Colors at the Wheel” on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6.

Creating the Yarn You Want

Blending Colors at the Wheel
Before these workshops, on Friday, May 4, I will be giving a presentation for the DuluthFiber Handcrafters Guild, “Sources of Inspiration: Show Me a Miracle”.

A couple weeks later, I go north again to teach some knitting workshops. I am so excited to be part of the Spring Fiber Fling, an annual fiber retreat sponsored by the Country Spinners and Bridge Shuttlers. This retreat is the weekend of May 19-20 and it’s located in Pickford, Michigan (north of The Bridge). I will be teaching “Knitting Ribs and Welts” on Saturday, May 19.

Knitting Ribs and Welts
Then I drive down to Petoskey (a bit south of The Bridge) to teach at the Tip of the Mitt Fiber Fair. This annual festival is in its second year and is also the weekend of May 19-20. I am teaching “Matching Yarn to Project and Project to Yarn” on Sunday, May 20.

Matching Yarn to Project & Project to Yarn

At the end of May, I travel south to Wooster, Ohio to take part in the Great Lakes Fiber Show. I was there last year for the first time and loved it. This year, I’m teaching “Variations on Long Draw” on Saturday, May 26. That afternoon I’ll be judging the skein competition. The following day, Sunday, May 27, I’m teaching “Spinning Luxury: Cashmere, Camel, and More”. 

Variations on Long Draw

Spinning Luxury: Cashmere, Camel, and More
So, May is a month of packing, unpacking, driving, teaching, and doing laundry. And interacting with wonderful fiber folks. It will be a non-stop month, but a good one, I am sure!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Trips to Toledo

This part of Michigan – where I live – experienced a significant, multi-day winter storm, starting April 13 (Friday the 13th, of course) and ending April 16. The average April snow fall for nearby Traverse City is 2 ½ inches. Over that weekend, TC got over 20 inches of snow…and sleet…and ice…and other forms of frozen precipitation. I like winter. I like snow. But. Gah!

It started to warm up significantly by Thursday, April 19. Good thing, too, because I was preparing to drive down to the Toledo area to teach some workshops.

The Holey Toledo Knitters Guild had invited me to teach workshops on Saturday, April 21: “Extended & Manipulated Slip Stitches” and “I-Cord Edges and More!” I had so much fun sharing some knitting excitement with 16 of the guild’s members. What a delightful group of knitters! They were engaged, cheerful, friendly. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer day of knitting. And the guild members gifted me a bag of Toledo-specific goodies: yarn ("Bad Amy Knits" How appropriate!), candy, pickles, coffee, and soap. I was blown away. Thank you all, again, for your generosity. In addition, I was treated to two nights out for dinner. Apparently, the Toledo area has a lot of Lebanese and Middle Eastern restaurants. I got to enjoy some delicious kabobs and falafel. Yum!

The workshops were held in a nearby public library. It was a terrific setting; good light, plenty of room, plenty of table space. And the guild members brought snacks for our enjoyment. Wendy’s ginger cookies were out of this world! She let me take some home. They did not last the drive. I hope I can persuade her to share the recipe with me. I stayed overnight both Friday and Saturday at the home of the guild’s president, Sue. To my delight, Sue had two cheery dogs: Ezra and Josie. And Sue herself was also cheery, and a perfect host. I couldn’t have been more comfortable.

Back to the weather. When I left for this trip, there was a covering of about 12 inches of snow in my yard, and I was a bit concerned that I might not make it out of my driveway. I am happy to report that I did make it out of the driveway. When I arrived in Toledo, it was actually spring. Greening grass, daffodils, and all kinds of bird sounds. Here is a picture of Sue’s back yard.

On my drive home, I didn’t see any snow until I got to Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, where there were just hints of sad, melting piles. When I got home, this is what my front yard looked like.

I am confident that all the snow will be long gone by the time I take my second trip of the year to the Toledo area. I have been invited to teach two days of spinning workshops for the Black Swamp Spinners Guild, June 2-3, 2018 in Elmore, Ohio. I’ll be teaching “Blending Colors at the Wheel” on Saturday, and “Variations on Long Draw” and “Ply This Way, Ply That Way” on Sunday. I am so looking forward to another trip to that fibery corner just over the Michigan border.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Nobody's Perfect

I couldn’t be more pleased that there are two of my articles in the Spring 2018 issue of Spin Off magazine. My “Energized Cinder Blocks Cowl” is a featured project. And there’s my article, “3-D Effects with Energized Singles”.

I have truly enjoyed writing articles for Spin Off, ever since my first article was published in 2006 (“A Study in Zig. Six Energized-Singles Scarves” Spin Off, Spring 2006, pp58-64). I’m mean, who doesn’t like seeing their writing in print?

This time, however, there were some minor mistakes in the editing of a photo caption that resulted in a confusing explanation of my intentions. So, Anne Merrow, the editor of Spin Off graciously fixed those errors and made the revisions available on line for free. Thank you, Anne, and all of your editorial staff for your good work.

Click here to see my “7 tips for knitting with energized yarns”.

Click here to see the corrected version of my article, “3-D Effects with Energized Singles”.

Click here to see the charts for all the stitch patterns in my swatches.

Click here to purchase a copy of the Spring 2018 issue of Spin Off.

On that last "click here" you might also notice that I’ve got an article in the Winter 2017-2018 issue of Spin Off: “Mittens from the Mitten State”. And those mittens are on the cover!

I know it’s mid April, but here in northern Michigan, we are still experiencing winter, so I’ve been able to make good use of those mittens. They are sweet!!!

Friday, April 6, 2018

New Website, and Coming Out of My Shell

Well, folks, my fall and winter have been tough. Emotionally, financially, physically, and psychologically. So, I played the hermit. I’ve been quiet.

One specific I’ll share is that I had developed significant right elbow epicondylitis (aka “tennis elbow”) which forced me to rest my arm and not knit and not spin for well over 6 weeks. Torture! At least now all is well, elbow-wise, and I’m happily spinning and knitting again.

It’s time to force myself out of my shell.

Let me share some good news with you. I have a new website!

And a new business email address:

The back story: My original website was generated though Microsoft Office 360. But last year, they stopped supporting websites. So, I was unable to edit. Maybe you noticed that my list of “Upcoming Events” was woefully out of date. But no more!

With some invaluable help from my friend, Joan Watson. If you are interested in using her skills, check out her website:

Joan has some mad IT skills. She got me using Weebly to generate the website content and format. Weebly basic tools are free, by the way. And she helped move from the old website to the new website. And she helped extricate me from Microsoft. And she helped me deal with domain name issues.

Joan lives in Tucson. I live in northern Michigan. We communicated by phone and email and some other computer ways that I am not informed enough to explain. She made it all work beautifully.

On the Homepage, you will find “buttons” for

Resume: an up to date listing of my recent fiber teaching and publications

Upcoming Events: an up to date listing of places where I will be teaching and/or presenting

Workshops: descriptions of the spinning and knitting workshops that I offer

Gallery: a selection of yarns and knitted projects that I’ve created

Blog: a link to this blog

Contact: a page for contacting me by email 

In addition, on my homepage, you will find a link to my Ravelry knitting patterns.

So, check out my website. I’d love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Teaching

The Summer Solstice was last week. It’s officially summer. And here’s my official summer teaching schedule.

In July, I’m off to Millersville, Pennsylvania for the MidAtlantic Fiber Association Conference, “A Kaleidoscope of Possibilities”. Dates are July 20-23, 2017. MAFA is a biennial event, with all workshops in a 2 ½ day format. In addition to the workshops, there is a marketplace, fashion show, and the keynote speaker this year is Madelyn van der Hoogt. 2017 marks my fourth time teaching at this conference. I’m teaching “Woolen-Worsted Continuum”.

In August, I’ve got my annual pilgrimage to the Michigan Fiber Festival. This delightful festival is held at the bucolic Allegan County Fairgrounds in Allegan, Michigan. Workshops are Wednesday through Saturday, August 16-19. Some vendors will open on Friday, August 18. All vendors will be open Saturday and Sunday, August 19-20. Also on those two days, there are demonstrations, exhibits, fleece and fiber animal judging, and more! I’m teaching Wednesday – Friday: “Beginning Spinning at the Wheel” (sold out), “Knitting Petoskey Stones” (also sold out), “Diversity of Wool” (3 spaces left), and “Creating the Yarn You Want” (3 spaces left). So, I will have Saturday and Sunday to enjoy all the festival goodness.

September is the month for the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival, in Jefferson, Wisconsin. This is a terrific festival. Fiber, farmers, food. Fun! There are some workshops on Thursday, September 7. And the full festival continues Friday through Sunday, September 8-10. I’m teaching a one-day version of “Woolen-Worsted Continuum” and I will be teaching “Blending Board: Basics and More” twice!

At the end of September (ok, I know it’s officially past summer but it still may be warm enough to swim in Lake Michigan), I’m headed to Petoskey, Michigan to teach some knitting workshops at Cindy’s Northern Crafts. I’m teaching a full-day version of “Knitting Petoskey Stone Medallions” as well as two half-day workshops: “I-Cord Edges and More!” and “The Surprising Yarn-Over.” I stopped off at the shop in May to deliver my Petoskey stone wall hanging for display. 

I hope you can join me on some – or all – of these fiber activities.