Saturday, April 12, 2008


Here we are at the Spin-In! I had a bit of catching up to do on the home front so this post got a bit delayed. For those readers who have no idea what a "Spin-In" is or what goes on at one, I offer the following explanation: A Spin-in is a gathering of spinners and other fiber enthusiasts for the purpose of exchanging ideas, shopping, tips, shopping, techniques, shopping, socializing with fellow spinners, and OK, I am going on about the shopping a bit much but for some of us, I am not too far from the truth. In addition to the above, the Spin-In features a guest speaker and teacher which, this year, was Judith MacKenzie McCuin.

The picture on the right isn't the best of quality. I find overhead florescent light a bit challenging. It gives you a partial view of the spinners looking out from the vendor area. My spinning wheel is lost somewhere in the middle there.
After the wonderful pre-Spin-In workshop I attended I had a good day of rest at Deception Pass state park with my husband and dog in our new travel trailer. You will be hearing about the trailer sometime down the road soon as it will be playing a large part in our future life. I got to the Spin-In ready for more spinning, learning, and yes, shopping! I spent most of the morning, after staking out my spot, browsing the vendor booths. We had a wonderful assortment of fibers, books, fleeces, and equipment to drool over and fondle, er... that is, to evaluate and consider.
The first day of the Spin-In was mostly time to spin, meet old friends and new, shop, and settle in for the afternoon presentation by Judith.
Not only is Judith a knowledgeable spinner, fiber artist, and rancher, she is an articulate and enthralling story teller. I could sit for hours spinning and listening to her stories of ranch life and her knowledge of fibers. The focus for the weekend was the wild fibers, particularly bison, yak, and cashmere. The following is a taste of what we learned. As before, any mistakes in facts are solely my own and not Judith's.
I should mention at this point that "bison" is the official or legal term for what we have called buffalo. Before the Europeans came to this continent, there were estimated to be about 70 million head of bison. The bison were systematically killed which took about 60 years and reduced the 70 million to about 500. Yes, that is five hundred. Today the bison have been brought back to about 150-200,000 head strong. I apologize that these sentences are a bit terse. I am trying to stick to the facts and leave the emotion and judgments for each individual to sort out themselves.
Judith is a firm believer in telling the truth of our fiber sources and I support this one hundred percent. To make good decisions in life, we need to know the truth and base those decisions on truth. The truth behind the bison fiber is that unlike sheep or cashmere, bison fiber is collected when the animal has been killed. The fiber is essentially a by-product of the bison meat industry.
The fiber we use for spinning is the undercoat and it is very soft and lovely. It is a short fiber like most undercoat fiber is and is best spun using the woolen technique. The yak and cashmere we spun on Sunday is also best spun using the woolen technique.
After Judith's lecture we had more time for spinning, shopping, and socializing before going home tired and happy.
Sunday was the workshop portion of the Spin-In. We were given fiber packets as part of our admission fee that contained yak, bison, and cashmere. Judith got us started on the bison and came to each group to demonstrate and hand out more fiber (de-pigmented yak the first time and a yak/silk blend the second time around).
A spinner named Elsie who was sitting next to me asked Judith what would be the best fiber to practice using the woolen spinning techniques and not be so costly as the wild fibers tend to be. Judith's prompt reply was cotton! As a predominantly worsted spinner, I took her advice and purchased some Pima cotton to practice on.
We left the Spin-In with enough spun fiber to knit up a scarf. As I don't knit, I will have to find another use but the resulting yarns are quite lovely. It was a very satisfying Spin-In for me and I am able to add new techniques and fibers to my spinning repertoire.
So, what treasures did I take home from the vendor booths? I am downsizing so I was very selective. Starting from the bottom center with the drop-spindle, I purchased it along with the mini niddy-noddy from The Bellwether. You can visit her website at
The drop spindle is made by the Bosworth's and is crafted from Bocote wood. It is a richly colored and patterned wood and the spindle spins like a dream. The fiber the spindle and noddy are resting on is baby camel and silk I purchased from Island Fibers on Lopez Island, WA. The mini niddy-noddy is also of Bocote wood and made in Winnipeg by Edward Tabachek. The lovely fiber at the top of the picture is Mongolian Cashmere dyed and sold by Sarah Anderson at Great Balls of Fiber. Her yarn is featured on the cover of the Spring 2008 issue of Spin Off magazine. The final fiber is Pima cotton I purchased from Island Fibers to practice spinning using the woolen technique. Who says practice fiber has to be yucky? The yarn will be used even if it isn't "perfect"!
So, that is the Spin-In! I want to say Hi to all the wonderful friends I met who kindly went out of the way to tell me they enjoy reading my blog. It is a treat to see you all in "real" time and I appreciate the comments, they inspire me to keep on blogging. I also want to say Hi to Diana who I got to meet in person after meeting through the blogosphere and will be popping over to her blog to see what she has written up.
Now, to get to work on spinning up some of those fibers! -Renee

1 comment:

knits plenty said...

Renee; Hello from the beutiful Methow Valley. Since The Spin In, well I guess I'm getting use to the idea of spring, if it ever comes. I do think our weather has ben just a little bit better than over there.
I finaly got started on our guild challenge, a little late, and I thought I had it planned out better than it's turning out. Our challenge was Color "n" Weave, and I had decided to do something simple, but striking. Well you know what they say about the best layed plans. I think in the end I will have something, but not what I had planned, and it is suppose to be a learning experience, and I learn something new ever time I weave.
We're getting ready to leave for three weeks, to visit family in Rochester N.Y. We have'nt traveled much in our 39 years of marraige, so it will be a new experiance.
Shortly after we return home, I'll be getting ready for my stay at Stehekin, for the 26th, Spinning Rendezvous, you should think about looking into that , it's great fun, ans so relaxing. So have a great month of May. Talk to you soon. Diana