Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Hurricane Sandy is currently covering most of the U.S. east of the Mississippi river.  We here in northwest lower Michigan are not immune.  We have rather strong winds today.  And, weirdly, it’s been raining and snowing at the very same time.  I’ve never seen that before.  I’ve seen plenty of sleet, freezing rain, hail, wet snow, dry snow, and so forth, but never distinct snowflakes and raindrops simultaneously.

And like the weather, my life is a whirlwind too.  I got home late Sunday night from a most fabulous experience at Spin-Off Autumn Retreat.  I want to make a full report, but I cannot today…because…I’m headed off tomorrow morning for Livonia, Michigan.

I’ll be teaching two days of workshops for the Michigan Handspinners Guild.  My friend, Dianne Little, helped organize these workshops.  She lives in Livonia, but she often visits up north and attends the spinning group meetings here in Benzie county.  I will be staying at her house.  She has a significant number of spinning wheels and I look forward to seeing her collection.

On Thursday I’ll be teaching “Creating the Yarn You Want”.  It’s a workshop about controlling the thickness and twist of yarns as well as learning practical strategies for matching the thickness and twist of already existing yarns.

On Friday I’ll be teaching “Blending Colors at the Wheel”, where we cover a variety of strategies for mixing rovings and tops to create unique yarns without the use of cards or combs.  My hope is that participants will look at their fiber stashs with fresh eyes.

When I return from this trip I’ll do a Tell-All about SOAR and MHG.  For now, it’s packing time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Makin' a List...

...And checkin’ it twice.

I leave for SOAR on Saturday.  Am I ready?  Nearly.

A few weeks ago, when I was at my most anxious about being ready, I made a list of things to do in preparation for SOAR.  I am pleased to announce I’ve checked off all but two items.  Those two items:  1) buy a pair of black travel pants, and 2) practice packing my wheel in my new suitcase.

Today is dedicated to packing.  Tomorrow I go into town to hunt for pants.

Other items already checked off:  Finish dyeing yarn and fiber.  Done.  Buy airline ticket.  Done.  Buy suitcase.  Done.  Gather materials, tools, samples.  Done.  Ship materials.  Done.

And, get hair dyed.  Done!  By Sharron May, hair stylist extraordinaire, and proprietor of Beyond Salon Holistic Lifestyles

Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

And, Besides, It's Purple!

The next few weeks are going to be filled with preparations for SOAR.  Spin-Off Autumn Retreat is the premier annual spinning event in the USA.  It is sponsored by Interweave Press, and this year is held in Tahoe City, California, October 21-27.

I’ll have 80 workshop participants in my 6 days of workshops.  That’s a lot.  I’ve got to make sure I have sufficient supplies and all the needed equipment, including a spinning wheel!  Earlier this year, I decided to get a Lendrum folding wheel for traveling.  I’ve spent a good amount of time spinning on this wheel, and I do love how it works.  It’s a fine wheel and does all the things I want it to do.

But it’s big.  Folded up, it’s 29 inches long, 19 inches wide, and 7 inches deep.  When I flew to South Dakota last month for the North Country Fiber Fair, I shipped this wheel in its original box, which worked just fine, but that cardboard box isn’t going to last forever.

I needed a suitcase.  A hardshell suitcase.  One that is big enough for my wheel.  Over the past few months, I have come to realize that the size of the Lendrum is a bit of a limiting factor.  I had friends who were confident they had an old suitcase that would be big enough.  Regrettably, no.

I had to resort to actually shopping for a new suitcase.  Perhaps you can tell that I’m not an enthusiastic shopper (unless of course the shopping is for fiber stuff).  I had to build up the courage to go from place to place.

First stop, Goodwill.  No hardshell suitcases at all.  Then, to TJMaxx:  Some hardshell suitcases, but the biggest ones were ever so slightly too small for the wheel.  Macy’s led to success.  They had a wide array of hardshell suitcases, but only one brand was large enough for the wheel.  The case was available in three colors:  silver, blue, and purple.  Of course I chose purple.

Now I need to practice packing my wheel for best, safest effect.